In 2007, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates.
Heart Disease and Stroke
- Heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older in 2004.
- Stroke was noted on 16% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 years or older in 2004.
- Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.
- The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
- About 67% of adults with diabetes had blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or use prescription medications for hypertension in 2005-2008.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20-74 years old.
- 4.2 million people with diabetes aged 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy in 2005-2008. Among those, 665,000 had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of new cases in 2008.
- In 2008, 48,374 people with diabetes began treatment for end-stage kidney disease.
- In 2008, a total of 202,290 people with end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant.
Nervous System Disease
- About 60% to 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage. The results of such damage include impaired sensation or pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion of food in the stomach, carpal tunnel syndrome, erectile dysfunction, or other nerve problems.
- Almost 30% of people with diabetes aged 40 years or older have impaired sensation in the feet (i.e., at least one area that lacks feeling).
- Severe forms of diabetic nerve disease are a major contributing cause of lower-extremity amputations.
- More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations in the United States occur among people with diabetes.
- In 2006, about 65,700 nontraumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes.
- Periodontal (gum) disease is more common in people with diabetes. Among young adults, those with diabetes have about twice the risk of those without diabetes.
- Persons with poorly controlled diabetes (A1c > 9%) were nearly 3 times more likely to have severe periodontitis than those without diabetes.
- Almost one-third of people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease with loss of attachment of the gums to the teeth measuring 5 millimeters or more.
Complications of Pregnancy
- Poorly controlled diabetes before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause major birth defects in 5% to 10% of pregnancies and spontaneous abortions in 15% to 20% of pregnancies.
- Poorly controlled diabetes during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can result in excessively large babies, posing a risk to both mother and child.
- Uncontrolled diabetes often leads to biochemical imbalances that can cause acute life-threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.
- People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses and, once they acquire these illnesses, often have worse prognoses. For example, they are more likely to die with pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
- People with diabetes aged 60 years or older are 2–3 times more likely to report an inability to walk one-quarter of a mile, climb stairs, do housework, or use a mobility aid compared with persons without diabetes in the same age group.
- People with diabetes are two times as likely to have depression, which can complicate diabetes management, than people without diabetes. Additionally, depression is associated with a 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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In junior high school, I'd gotten my hands on one of my father's old English books and read a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Great Stone Face". The story is based on the natural mountain/rock formation in New Hampshire of the same name (you can see an image of it on New Hampshire state quarters). In the story, there was a legend that the person whose face looked like The Great Stone Face would be "the...