Preventing Diabetes Complications

Diabetes can affect many parts of the body and can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney damage, and lower-limb amputations. Working together, people with diabetes and their health care providers can reduce the occurrence of these and other diabetes complications by controlling the levels of blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids, and by receiving other preventive care practices in a timely manner.

Glucose control

Studies in the United States and abroad have found that improved glycemic control benefits people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In general, every percentage point drop in A1C blood test results (e.g., from 8.0% to 7.0%) reduces the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by 40%.

Blood pressure control

  • Blood pressure control reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke) among persons with diabetes by 33% to 50%, and the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by approximately 33%.

  • In general, for every 10 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk for any complication related to diabetes is reduced by 12%.

Blood Lipids Control

Improved control of cholesterol or blood lipids (for example, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides) can reduce cardiovascular complications by 20% to 50%. 

Preventive Care Practices for Eyes, Kidneys, and Feet

  • Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the development of severe vision loss by an estimated 50% to 60%.

  • Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%.

  • Detecting and treating early diabetic kidney disease by lowering blood pressure can reduce the decline in kidney function by 30% to 70%. Treatment with ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are more effective in reducing the decline in kidney function than other blood pressure lowering drugs.