Kinds of Long-Term Complications

When people don't manage their diabetes well it can cause blood vessel and nerve damage, leading to many long-term complications. This damage can happen slowly. Sometimes it can take 5 to 10 years for problems to show up.

The better a person controls blood sugar and blood pressure levels, the less damage will happen over time. Complications are greater and show up sooner the more uncontrolled blood sugar and blood pressure levels are.

You can avoid or slow damage that leads to long-term complications by following your diabetes care plan. Most diabetes care plans include eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, checking blood sugar levels regularly, and taking medications when needed. People who are being treated for high blood pressure should also check blood pressure levels regularly and keep them at or under 129/79.

We recommend regular clinic exams and lab tests as part of a diabetes care plan. These tests and exams help find and treat any damage before it leads to more serious long-term complications.

Clinical review by David McCulloch, MD
Kaiser Permanente
Reviewed 03/01/2014