Learning about the disease and actively participating in the treatment is important, since complications are far less common and less severe in people who have well-managed blood sugar levels. The goal of treatment is an HbA1C level of 6.5%, but should not be lower than that, and may be set higher. Attention is also paid to other health problems that may accelerate the negative effects of diabetes. These include smoking, elevated cholesterol levels, obesity, high blood pressure, and lack of regular exercise. Specialized footwear is widely used to reduce the risk of ulceration, or re-ulceration, in at-risk diabetic feet. Evidence for the efficacy of this remains equivocal, however.
Metabolic syndrome (also known as metabolic syndrome X) is a grouping of cardiac risk factors that result from insulin resistance (when the body's tissues do not respond normally to insulin). A person with metabolic syndrome has a greatly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death. In fact, another name for metabolic syndrome is pre-diabetes.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common but frequently undiagnosed sleep-related breathing disorder defined as an average of at least 10 apneic and hypopenic episodes per sleep hour, which leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. Multiple studies have shown OSA to be an independent risk factor for the development of essential hypertension, even after adjusting for age, gender, and degree of obesity.
How to treat metabolic syndrome is controversial. Because there are several potential markers, the public health community has struggled with the decision of how best to define, diagnose and treat it. Nutritional approaches have generally been downplayed in favor of multiple medications that target the individual markers. Conventional recommendations tend to emphasize caloric restriction and reduced fat intake, even though metabolic syndrome can best be described as carbohydrate intolerance. The most effective treatment for metabolic syndrome is to control the intake of carbs, not fat. In fact, restricting dietary fat and replacing it with carbohydrate actually makes many of the problems of metabolic syndrome worse. The metabolic syndrome paradigm has therefore caused a great deal of distress—and pushback—among those advocating low-fat diets. For more on how to prevent metabolic syndrome, see How to Reduce Your Risk for Metabolic Syndrome.
The body obtains glucose from three main sources: the intestinal absorption of food; the breakdown of glycogen (glycogenolysis), the storage form of glucose found in the liver; and gluconeogenesis, the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates in the body. Insulin plays a critical role in balancing glucose levels in the body. Insulin can inhibit the breakdown of glycogen or the process of gluconeogenesis, it can stimulate the transport of glucose into fat and muscle cells, and it can stimulate the storage of glucose in the form of glycogen.
[Guideline] Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Hypertension. 2018 Jun. 71(6):e13-e115. [Medline]. [Full Text].