Risks of diabetes

If your blood sugar level remains high for many years and is not normalised, a number of dangerous complications can arise:

Eye disease (retinopathy)

A circulatory disturbance of the retina can be detected in up to 95% of Type 1 diabetics and 80% of Type 2 diabetics who have suffered from diabetes for 15 to 20 years. This leads to a loss of visual acuity. The risk of going blind is 5.2 times higher for diabetics than for non-diabetics.

Kidney disease (nephropathy)

20 to 30% of all diabetics develop a kidney disease. The danger of kidney insufficiency (functional deficiency of the kidney) is around 12.7 times higher for diabetic men than for non-diabetics.

Cardiovascular disease

A diabetic with high blood pressure has approximately four times the increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to non-diabetics without high blood pressure. The risk of a heart attack increases 3.7 times in diabetic men and 5.9 times in women. If the diagnosis is made after the patient is 30 years old, then the risk of a cardiovascular death is 2.3 times higher than for a non-diabetic. When diabetes is diagnosed in patients who are less than 30 years old, the risk of a fatal cardiovascular event is 9.1 times higher.

Nerve disease (neuropathy)

Approximately 30% of diabetics suffer from nerve damage. This involves both the nerves involved in muscle movement and sensation and those of the internal organs. 10 to 15% of diabetics suffer pronounced pain to a greater or lesser degree.


The risk of a stroke is around 2 to 4 times higher for diabetics than for non-diabetics.

Diabetic foot

The incidence of ulcers for diabetics under 50 years old is 1.7 to 3.3%, and 5 to 10% for those over 50 years old. On average amputations have to be performed in 3 cases per 1000 diabetics.


Periodontitis is a condition in which the gums recede and the teeth and jawbones become loose. This disease occurs on average three times more frequently in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics than in people without diabetes.

The first warning signs of an impaired carbohydrate metabolism such as unusual thirst, increased urination, fatigue and weight loss should not be ignored. The problem is that Type 2 diabetes in particular can exist for years without any noticeable symptoms. In Germany alone there are about 4 million undiagnosed diabetics. It is therefore essential to check your weight regularly, engage in physical exercise and have your blood glucose checked at your local GP surgery or a local chemist to ensure that diabetes is diagnosed at an early stage and treated appropriately.