Healthy Living

Five Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors to Watch

If you control these five risk factors for diabetes, you can lower your risk for fatal complications.

Five Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors to Watch

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that health problems and early death rates could be lowered by controlling at least five known risk considerations for type 2 diabetes.

To date, most studies and research focus on only one risk factor at a time, which is good, but if you focus on all five known risk factors, think of what could happen to your type 2 diabetes.

The Study and Conclusions

Reviews of more than 1.6 million people in Sweden showed that nearly 300,000 of these people had type 2 diabetes. The records included information on five risk factors associated to diabetes and complications of diabetes. Risk factors include blood sugar, kidney proteins, LDL cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure. Health outcomes include early death, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.

Dr. Aidin Rawshani, from the department of molecular and clinical medicine at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, discovered that those with type 2 diabetes, who followed these five health procedures for keeping risk factors under control, were less likely to have a heart attack by up to 16% lower than those who did not have type 2 diabetes.

Rawshani states, “These results show that we may actually be able to reduce substantially, and in some cases even possibly eliminate, excess health risk by treating these risk factors.”

It's not a guarantee that bringing these five factors under control will prevent you from early death, heart complications, or strokes. However, controlling these factors is better than not following doctor’s orders, which includes taking your prescribed medications.

The study does say that risk doesn’t completely go away when you stick to the recommended guidelines, and those who have all five risk factors within the recommended levels may have a higher rate of hospitalization for heart failure. They do not have a higher risk of dying or having a heart attack, however.

The benefits of taking care of the five risk factors are significant for younger people with type 2 diabetes, says the study’s author Dr. Soffia Gubdjornsdottier, professor of molecular and clinical medicine at the University of Gothenburg. She suggests those people who are younger with type 2 diabetes and their doctors need to pay more attention to all the risk factors. Don’t just pay attention to a few of them.

In other words, take care of keeping blood sugar down, but don’t let patients continue to smoke. Dr. Gubdjornsdottier went on to say, “There seems to be a tendency to wait and see a little bit with younger people when it comes to blood pressure and high blood lipids. But the results show that we may be waiting and seeing a little bit too long.”

The study concludes by saying that just by bringing these five selected risk factors under control and within guideline levels, you can reduce your risk of early death and eliminate the risk of heart attack.

As a note, the study only researched the consequences of people with type 2 diabetes controlling the five risk factors with medications. Dr. Rawshani did not include lifestyle changes, improved diet, and exercise. If a patient with type 2 diabetes includes lifestyle changes, their diabetes could be even more improved.

Five Risk Factors from the Swedish Study

1. Keeping blood sugar under control

Stabilize your type 2 diabetes and live longer, avoid heart attacks, strokes, kidney, failure, and blindness. Spot check your sugar levels at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Count carbs. Doctors recommend that women need 35-45 grams of carbs and men need 45-60 grams. Try to avoid going over these recommended amounts. Make sure you exercise. Take your medications. You may need insulin injections to control your sugar or medications, like metformin and diet, will keep sugar levels under control.

2. Get rid of LDL cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by your body and found in animal-based foods. Diabetes often lowers good cholesterol and raises triglycerides and dangerous cholesterol levels. Bad cholesterol and high triglycerides increase the risk for heart disease and strokes. Higher bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels are called diabetic dyslipidemia. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are recommended, and taking prescribed medications like statins, which include Lipitor, Lescol, or Pravastatin.

3. Quit smoking

Smoking is a health hazard for anyone, but if you have diabetes, you will have higher blood sugar levels and make diabetes challenging to control. Smoking puts you at a higher risk of developing blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure, and heart problems. It is the nicotine in cigarettes that cause the problems. Nicotine raises the level of hemoglobin A1c by at least 34%. The best control: stop smoking.

4. High blood pressure produces diabetic complications

High blood pressure or hypertension leads to complications of diabetes like eye disease and kidney disease. Diabetes damages arteries and contributes to atherosclerosis. Doctors use ACE inhibitors and ARB or angiotensin II receptor blockers to help with high blood pressure. Take your blood pressure medications to maintain lower blood pressure. Some medicines can cause side effects but following prescribed blood pressure medications will help control your diabetes.

5. Manage kidney proteins

Diabetes causes injury to the small blood vessels in your body. When your blood vessels are injured, your kidney cannot clean your blood efficiently. Damaged blood vessels can cause your body to retain water and salt, which will result in weight gain and ankle swelling. If your small blood vessels are damaged, waste materials will build up in your blood, and you will have proteins in your urine. This isn’t good. Diabetes also causes damage to the nerves in your body, which causes difficulty in emptying your bladder. Pressure that results from a full bladder can injure your kidneys. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Control these five factors in type 2 diabetes and your risk of early death, heart problems and stroke can be reduced. It might seem difficult, but don't give up! Make sure to maintain your medications, exercise, eat right, and control your lifestyle.

Watch diabetic websites and read what new studies are being conducted. Research into diabetes solutions is being conducted all the time and new advances are being published that can help you live a long and healthy life, even with a diagnosis of diabetes.