7 Scary Things That Can Happen When You Don’T Treating Diabetes
You’re prone to a major cardiac event.
In addition to raising your blood pressure and cholesterol, high blood glucose can directly damage your veins, arteries, and heart muscle. Anyone who do not treating diabetes has nearly double the risk of heart attack, and their risk of stroke quadruples. “Heart attack is the No. 1 killer in diabetics,” Hatipoglu says.
Your vision fades.
More than 4 million people with diabetes have some degree of retinopathy, or damage to the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This happens because high blood glucose levels harm the eye’s delicate blood vessels, a process that can begin as early as 7 years before diagnosis.
Your kidneys fail.
Over time, high blood glucose thickens and scars the nephrons, tiny structures within the kidneys that filter your blood. About 7% of the time, you’ll already have protein leaking into your urine—an early sign of kidney problems—by the time you receive a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. (Find out what the color of your pee says about your health.)
Your nerves fray.
About 7.5% of people already have neuropathy, or nerve damage caused by high blood glucose, when they’re diagnosed with diabetes. Eventually, about half of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes will develop it. At first, you might have no symptoms or feel a mild tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, Gabbay says. But eventually, neuropathy can cause pain, weakness, and digestive troubles as it strikes the nerves that control your gastrointestinal tract.
You may lose a foot.
As damage to the long nerves between your brain and lower limbs worsens, your muscle tone slackens and the shape of your foot changes, causing bunions, flat feet, and other deformities. One wrong step or pebble in your shoe can cause a small ulcer; numbness means you may not notice it, and poor circulation from damaged blood vessels slows healing.
Your life shortens.
All of these health problems can eventually add up to the ultimate complication: an earlier death. A recent study in JAMA suggests women with type 1 diabetes can expect to live 13 fewer years than people without the disease. not treating diabetes officially ranks as the seventh leading cause of death—but since death certificates sometimes list complications, rather than the disease itself, the actual number may be much higher.