Diabetes can contribute to increased mortality rates through its impact on various organs and systems in the body. Here are some ways in which diabetes can lead to increased mortality:
Cardiovascular Complications: Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease. High blood sugar levels, along with other factors like high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, can damage blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). This increases the risk of cardiovascular events and can ultimately result in premature death.
Kidney Disease: Diabetes is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy). Elevated blood sugar levels and prolonged exposure to high blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, impairing their function. Over time, this can progress to end-stage renal disease, requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation. Kidney disease is associated with increased mortality rates.
Neuropathy and Foot Complications: Diabetes can cause nerve damage (neuropathy), particularly in the extremities. Peripheral neuropathy can lead to loss of sensation and reduced healing capacity in the feet, increasing the risk of foot ulcers and infections. If left untreated, these complications can progress to serious infections, gangrene, and the need for amputation, which can significantly impact mortality rates.
Eye Complications: Diabetes can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the retina (diabetic retinopathy), leading to vision problems and potential blindness. Diabetic macular edema and other eye complications associated with diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life and overall mortality rates.
Increased Susceptibility to Infections: Diabetes can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. High blood sugar levels provide a favorable environment for bacterial and fungal growth. Infections such as urinary tract infections, skin infections, and respiratory infections can be more severe and have a higher risk of complications in people with diabetes.
Other Complications: Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of other complications, including peripheral arterial disease, gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying), erectile dysfunction, and an increased likelihood of certain types of cancer. These complications can contribute to increased mortality rates.