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ISTOCK.COM


* YOUR HEALTH


One of the most important annual tests for people who have diabetes is a lipid profile to check for high cholesterol. Although most providers in the past based treatment for high cholesterol on the number/ ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol, recent evidence suggests that this practice might have been incom- plete. Available now is a “ten-year cardiovascular risk score,” which takes into account several dif- ferent factors and provides an estimate regarding a patient’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke (cardiovascular event) in the next ten years. Based on this number, many providers decide whether treatment of cholesterol is needed.


VISION LOSS


The eyes are frequently one of the most common organ systems that people with diabetes neglect. They are also one of the most frequently affected organ systems in patients with poorly controlled diabetes. Retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the tissue at the back of the eye, called the retina. To preserve your eyesight, you should visit your ophthalmologist at least once a year to have a dilated eye exam. The eye doctor visit is one of the most important screening tests if you have diabetes,


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as your ophthalmologist can often detect damage to your eyes far before you begin to experience changes in vision. Frequently, treatment can begin before permanent vision changes take place. If you have not visited with an ophthalmologist in the past year, ask your provider for a referral.


NEUROPATHY Nerve pain (called neuropathy) is extremely common and almost guaranteed to develop in patients who have poorly controlled diabetes. Over a period of time, having high levels of blood sugar will frequent- ly result in damage to the nerves. One of the first signals lost when nerves are dam- aged involves sensation and touch. When this occurs, people with severe nerve damage are at significant risk for cuts and ulcers on the bottoms of their feet, as they frequently won’t feel an injury or cut to their foot until it has developed into a major wound. To prevent this type of progression, many provid- ers routinely perform foot exams on their patients with diabetes. A microfilament is placed on several areas of the foot to ensure that sensation is still intact. If sensation is lost, patients with diabetes are at significant risk for wounds to the bottoms of their feet that can result in ulceration and, in severe cases, infection of the bone (called osteomyelitis).


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