Diabetics at risk of ‘heart attacks and strokes’ in cold weather

Diabetes UK show how to test feet for diabetic feet sensitivity

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Douglas Twenefour, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: “It really is important to stay warm. The cold can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes – and diabetes makes people more at risk of these complications.” People are advised to heat their homes to “at least 18C in the rooms you regularly use”.

The leading charity issued five tips for diabetics during the winter months to effectively manage their blood sugar levels.

Firstly, diabetics need to “be aware of higher blood sugar levels” by checking “more often” and being “ready to adjust your diet or insulin dose” (if applicable).

Diabetes UK added that diabetics need to check their feet – “remember to take your shoes and socks off each day to check for signs of foot problems”.

The charity stated: “If you take insulin to treat your diabetes, keep a close eye on how you store it.

“It can freeze so don’t leave it in a car overnight. Extreme temperatures can affect diabetes technology, so follow manufacturers’ guidance and avoid exposing it to the cold weather.”

Another recommendation is to “ensure you get your Covid vaccines and flu jab”.

Not only that, “stay as active as you can to help manage your diabetes”.

Diabetes UK acknowledged: “We know it’s a little more difficult in the colder months, but there are plenty of ways you can get active in the home.”

Signs of high blood sugar

The NHS lists warning signs of high blood sugar, which includes:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Peeing a lot
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Blurred vision
  • Losing weight.

As colds and flu circulate more easily in the winter, as people spend more time indoors, people are more prone to falling ill.

Being unwell can be a cause of high blood sugar, the national health service points out.

Other “common causes of high blood sugar” include feeling stressed, eating too much sugary or starchy foods, and being less active than usual.

If you have tried to lower your blood sugar, but you are still experiencing symptoms it’s best to contact your diabetes care team or your GP surgery.

While short spikes of high blood sugar doesn’t usually lead to a serious problem, sustained high blood sugar can.

Sustained high blood sugar can lead to permanent damage to the nerves in the hands and feet, which is known as peripheral neuropathy.

Elevated blood sugar readings also put you at risk of permanent damage to the eyes, which is regarded as diabetic retinopathy.

Then there is the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a “life-threatening condition”.

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body begins to run out of insulin, which can lead to harmful ketones building up in the body.

Signs of diabetic ketoacidosis can include:

  • Needing to pee more than usual
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Being sick
  • Tummy pain
  • Breath that smells fruity (like pear drop sweets, or nail varnish)
  • Deep or fast breathing
  • Feeling very tired or sleepy
  • Confusion
  • Passing out.

If you suspect symptoms of diabetes, speak to your GP.

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