According to the Michigan-based Beaumont Health, individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing heart disease at a younger age and in a more severe form than those without diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that this link is due to the damage that high blood sugar causes to the vessels and nerves that control the heart. In addition, people with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure, too much LDL or “bad” cholesterol in their bloodstream and high triglycerides, which is a type of fat in the blood. Each of these conditions increases a person’s risk for heart disease.
Diabetes also affects the skin. In fact, the Michigan-based not-for-profit group Beaumont Health notes that a skin issue is often the first sign that a person has diabetes. That’s because diabetes damages blood vessels in the skin, leading to issues such as diabetic dermopathy. Diabetic dermopathy is characterized by brown, raised patches of skin, typically on the legs. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that, when diabetes affects the skin, this is often a sign that blood sugar levels are too high. The AAD offers a list and brief rundown of the various ways diabetes and prediabetes can affect the skin at aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/diabetes-warning-signs.
The National Kidney Foundation¨ notes that diabetes damages small blood vessels throughout the body, including in the kidneys. When vessels in the kidneys are damaged, the kidneys cannot clean blood properly. As a result, the body retains more water and salt than it should, which produces a host of negative consequences, including weight gain and the buildup of waste materials in the blood. In addition, elevated blood sugar levels force the kidneys to work harder. Over time, all that extra work can lead to kidney failure.