Diabetes should not be taken lightly, but diabetics are not always aware of the complications they should be paying the most attention to. A survey of awareness of the disease among diabetics, conducted by the Taiwanese Association of Diabetes Educators (TADB), has found that the complications diabetes sufferers are most concerned about are damage to the retina, kidney disease and cardiovascular complications, in that order. They should, however, be most worried about the cardiovascular complications and low blood sugar.
According to Tu Shih-te, president of the TADB, cardiovascular disease is currently the most common cause of death among diabetics, and 50 percent of the total number of diabetics who have had the disease for an average of 10 years or more and are hospitalized with comorbidity suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Tu also pointed out that, according to the latest figures from the 2019 annual report on diabetes in Taiwan, the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease as a result of complications from diabetes has been on the rise for the last 10 years.
Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Liberty Times
The association discovered that diabetics were not knowledgeable about the medicine they were taking, and despite being aware of the importance of controlling their blood sugar, diabetics often had trouble maintaining the correct blood sugar levels. At the same time, there was a gap between doctors and patients concerning their respective understanding of the seriousness of the disease complications.
According to the survey, 64 percent of patients were aware that controlling their blood sugar levels was important, but 60 percent failed to achieve the set levels for various reasons, including irregular lifestyles, a combination of multiple chronic diseases and a high average age, all of which made it difficult to keep blood sugar levels under control. In addition, some diabetics tend to assume they know best, and adjust their dosages without consulting their doctor, affecting their ability to control their blood sugar levels.
Formosan Diabetes Care Foundation chief executive officer Tsai Shih-Tzer said that excessive blood sugar levels means that major organs will be exposed to high sugar concentrations over extended periods, and this will cause various kinds of complications. It is not the case, however, that the lower the blood sugar the better, he said, as major organs such as the brain and the heart require it, and excessively low blood sugar levels brings with it risk of heart attack.
Problems caused by low blood sugar levels can be a hidden killer, because it can lead to issues with the autonomic nervous system such as cold sweats, muscle shakes and heart palpitations, and in serious s cases can lead to hypersomnia, slurred speech and erratic behavior, in some cases leading to coma or even death.
(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)
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