Articles, Blog

Complications of High Blood Glucose

August 31, 2019


Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death
in America, but a third of affected people are unaware of their disease. Diabetes is a condition in which individuals
lack the cellular response stimulated by insulin, a hormone that allows glucose to enter cells
as an energy source. When insulin binds to cell receptors, cells
activate GLUT4 transporters to allow entrance of glucose into the bloodstream. Individuals with type I diabetes lack insulin
due to autoimmune destruction of insulin beta cells. Individuals with type II diabetes have
defective insulin receptors. Since the cells can’t take in glucose, sugar
accumulates in the blood. Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, poses numerous health
risks in many areas. An excess of glucose in the blood leads to
glycation, when the sugar attaches to amino acids in proteins. Eventually, they make the
proteins defective, forming stable Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE). Glycated hemoglobin is used by doctors to
measure the blood glucose concentration in diabetic patients. The buildup of AGEs in the blood leads to
vessel damage and protein malfunction, causing harmful side effects. Damaged blood vessels in the eyes lead to
vision loss. In the extremities, nerve damage causes numbness and untreated wounds that
can lead to amputation. Kidney blood vessel damage can lead to kidney disease. AGEs can also cause atherosclerosis from blood
vessel lesions or hardening. If collagen, a structural protein, is glycated, the resulting
AGE detaches blood vessel cells and increases the risk for blood clots, which can lead to
stroke. To identify these glucose-modified proteins,
we have Receptors for Advanced Glycation End Products. These RAGE receptors on cells recognize
AGE as a ligand and stimulate an inflammatory response. However, the inflammation can get out of control,
damaging tissues and causing great risk for cardiovascular disease. More people should know the risks of developing
diabetes. Factors that may contribute to a higher risk of diabetes are family history,
physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and etc. Stay informed to make healthy lifestyle choices
like eating well and exercising to decrease the risk of sugar metabolism problems.

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