DIABETES LONG TERM COMPLICATIONS
Long-term complications are the effects on the body of prolonged
exposure to elevated glucose levels. People with diabetes are understandably fearful of these long-term
complications. It is, however, important to emphasize that with good glucose control and treatment of high
lipid levels and blood pressure, almost all of these complications can be prevented or their progression
arrested. Also, there is a genetic component to complications—even in the presence of poor glucose control,
only 40 percent of people with diabetes develop severe complications.
Following are the long
term complications of the diadetes
Long-term complications are categorized into two types: microvascular and macrovascular. This
division does not mean that one gets only one or the other—many times people have a little bit of
• Microvascular complications relate to the small blood vessels and capillaries and lead to
kidney, eye, and nerve disease. In people with type 1 diabetes, where the problem is principally of glucose
control, microvascular complications are initially more prominent, but once these develop, or with long duration
of diabetes, macrovascular complications may also occur.
• Macrovascular complications relate to disease of medium-sized and large blood vessels and
lead to heart attacks, circulation problems in the legs, and strokes. Generally speaking, people with type 2
diabetes are more prone to the macrovascular complications, because in addition to having elevated glucose
values, they often have high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol and triglycerides, and low HDL
cholesterol. They may develop microvascular disease with time if their glucose levels remain
Another point to remember is that some of the complications that are seen in people with
diabetes (for example cataracts, glaucoma, heart disease) also occur in the absence of diabetes. The difference
is that these complications are more frequent in people with diabetes.