Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the US (Deaths: Final Data for 2001, NCHS, CDC). According to the National Eye Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), an estimated 17 million Americans have diabetes, and 5.9 million of them have not yet been diagnosed. The number is climbing. Every year one million Americans 20 years and older are newly diagnosed. What's scary is most people are not diagnosed as having diabetes until they develop a life-threatening complication. In most of these cases, had the person known he had diabetes, the complication could have been avoided.

Complications associated with Diabetes:

(1) Blindness: Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in people ages 25-74.

(2) Heart Disease: People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to experience heart disease.

(3) Stroke: If you have diabetes, you are 5 times more likely to suffer from a stroke.

(4) Amputations: The number one cause of lower limb amputations that is not related to a traumatic injury is - you guessed it - diabetes!

(5) Kidney failure: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.

(6) Nerve damage: It is estimated that 65% of people with diabetes suffer from mild to severe nerve damage.

Am I trying to use scare tactics? You bet I am. I will never forget a lady I met with diabetes. She had lost one leg, was partially blind, had suffered a stroke, and her kidneys no longer functioned properly. Why did this poor woman suffer these maladies? She refused to keep her diabetes under control, flat out refused.

It is not a hard task to accomplish, but it does take commitment and discipline. I cannot stress enough to those of you who suffer from diabetes: (1) Follow a well planned diet regimen, (2) Monitor your blood glucose level frequently, and (3)Follow your prescription drug regimen. These steps are imperative if you wish to live a long, happy life free of complications. Pretty bold statement, but it's the truth.

If you go through life with the attitude that diabetes is no big deal, chances are very good you will suffer one or more of the complications listed above. Future blogs will discuss important issues related to diet and provide you with valuable self-help resources.

Author's Bio: 

Written by: Laura S. Garrett, RD -- Registered Dietitian & ACE Certified Personal Trainer
-- Keep Laura's advice at your fingertips, wherever you and your cell phone go with
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