Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics

 

Inflammation

The body’s protective response to infection and injury. When a sentinel white blood cell detects a foreign substance in the body, it sends out chemicals that make nearby blood vessels dilate (widen) and become more permeable. The widened blood vessels bring more blood and heat to the area, while the increased leakiness of the vessels allows fluid (that can cause swelling) and other infection-fighting white blood cells (that release antibacterial chemicals that can cause pain) into the area. Redness, heat, swelling, and pain are all hallmarks of inflammation.

While short-term inflammation may protect the body, chronic inflammation is thought to play a harmful role in many diseases, including periodontal disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Although medical researchers have traditionally focused on cholesterol and blood pressure as risk factors for heart attack and stroke, they are now increasingly turning their attention to inflammation, using a blood marker for inflammation known as C-reactive protein, or CRP. Using a subset of people from the Physicians’ Health Study, researchers analyzed records of CRP levels from men who had had heart attacks or strokes within eight years of the end of the study and compared them with those of men similar in age and weight who had not had heart attacks or strokes. It turned out that men who had had heart attacks or strokes had higher levels of CRP during the study than those who didn’t. In fact, those with the highest levels of CRP had a threefold higher risk of heart attack and a twofold higher risk of stroke than men with the lowest levels.

The Women’s Health Study showed similar findings in women: Women with the highest levels of CRP were 4.5 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke over an eight-year period than women who had the lowest. In this study, CRP levels were a better predictor of heart attack or stroke than LDL cholesterol levels.

Some medical researchers believe that inflammation promotes the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque on blood vessel walls. It may especially promote the so-called “vulnerable” plaque, which produces blood clots that block arteries, causing heart attacks and strokes.

Research has uncovered a link between inflammation and diabetes as well. In the Cardiovascular Health Study, the quartile of people with the highest CRP levels were three to four times more likely to develop diabetes within three to four years of the study than the quartile of people with the lowest levels of CRP. Some researchers speculate that Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis may be caused by some of the same underlying mechanisms — and that one of these mechanisms may be inflammation.

What does all this mean in terms of preventing heart disease and stroke? The same prevention strategies still apply. Exercise, controlling diet, stopping smoking, and losing weight if you are overweight can all lower CRP levels — and are already proven lifestyle measures for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Statin drugs, which are used to lower cholesterol, may also help lower CRP levels. There is some evidence that aspirin may work to reduce inflammation, so the daily aspirin recommended for many people with diabetes may be of some help in fighting chronic inflammation.

 

 

More articles on Diabetes Definitions

 

 


Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

 

 

What Color Is Your Fat?
Fat: Ugh. We spend a big part of our lives trying to get rid of excess body fat. Dimply thighs,... Blog

Are You Wearing a "Health Halo"? Smoothies, Nuts, and Non-GMO Foods.
It's pretty interesting how much the "health halo effect" has infiltrated our lives. Brian... Blog

Carbohydrate Restriction
As diabetes becomes more prevalent, there are also an increasing number of books and websites... Article

What percentage of my calories should come from fat? Get tip


Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 2: Technique

What Stress Is Doing to Your Brain

Diabetic Cooking: The Summer Issue

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions