Dangers and Complications of Diabetes

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Over the years, I’ve written about the dangers and complications of diabetes, but I recently came across some staggering figures from the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affecting the senior population. I know many seniors who are in the pre-diabetes stage, but many of them take it in stride and don’t seem to understand the consequences.

Here are the statistics that may be of concern to you:

  • Among U.S. residents aged 65 years and older, 10.9 million, or 26.9%,  had diabetes in 2010.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age but without diabetes.

The estimated number of new cases in 2010 was also remarkable. For those between 45 to 54 it was 1,052,000 and for those 65 and over it was 390,000 making it a total of almost 1.5 million people. Medical expenses for people with diabetes are more than two times higher than for people without diabetes. People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses. Once they acquire these illnesses, they 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, or do housework compared with people without diabetes in the same age group. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease and can be reversed, but it takes a lot of work. If you need a partner to get started and hold you accountable, check out the Gracefully Age Program and grow out of being a diabetic statistic.

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Diabetes and Foot Problems

If you have diabetes, you want to watch carefully for the development of foot problems.   Over time, elevated sugar levels can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels.  The nerve damage, neuropathy, can cause pain and tingling or a complete loss of sensation.  Narrowing of the arteries can impair circulation, especially in the feet and lower legs.  This can reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the tissues, making them more vulnerable to injury and impairing their ability to heal.

The combination of numbness and poor circulation can lead to the development of foot ulcers. Here are some interesting points.

  • Foot complications are the most frequent cause for hospitalization of patients with diabetes.
  • About 30% to 50% of diabetics will develop foot problems related to the disease and about 15% of will develop a serious foot ulcer problem.
  • Foot ulcers precede 85% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations.
  • 50% of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations are performed on diabetics.
  • The cost of treating a foot ulcer in 2005 was estimated by the International Diabetes Federation to be $7,000 – $10,000 without amputation.
  • With amputation, the cost of treatment was estimated to be as high as $65,000.
  • Up to 60% of diabetic patients with a history of foot ulcers will develop another within one year.

Fortunately, there is an inexpensive and very effective way to combat peripheral lower limb neuropathy.  Unfortunately it is still relatively unknown among the people who need it most.  Dr. Michael Weintraub of the NY Medical College Department of Neurology and Medicine conducted an historic study on the effects of magnetic insoles on neuropathic pain which was published in the May 5, 2003 issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine.

The report concludes that the “study provides convincing data confirming that the constant wearing of static, permanent, magnetic insoles produces statistically significant reduction of neuropathic pain.”  The study involved nearly 400 patients, and the insoles were Magsteps produced by Nikken.  Dr. Weintraub says it’s only a certain kind of bipolar magnetic insoles that seems to help enough to make a difference.  These insoles were lauded by the researchers for “their safety and minimal cost.” Dr. Weintraub concluded that magnetic therapy is “comparable or superior to that observed with various conventional drugs,” and it also has the advantage of being non-invasive and less expensive (at a cost of $60) with no side-effects.

Click here to view a short video about Dr. Weintraub and the insoles. Click here to view a timelapse thermographic imaging video of the effect on feet of a pair of Nikken insoles.

Ann FinnGuest author Ann Finn, a Nikken representative. has seen the Nikken products work for herself as well as her clients and takes much joy when the lives of her clients improve. She can be reached by e-mail at wellnessmaven@yahoo.com or via her Web site at www.nikken.com/wellnessmaven.