About 1 year ago my wife was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She is 59 years old. Her father died at 85 yrs of age. Late in life, he had a number of mini strokes that didn't have make any long term disability. However, the last two strokes each took their toll with permanent leg and arm paralysis. As far as I know, he was never diagnosed with hypertension. He was a man that ate his meals very slowly. In fact, it would probably be an even money bet, as to who would finishing eating first - him or a snail. And when he moved about he did so in a very deliberate manner - never in a hurry. Her mother, on the other hand, was diagnosed with hypertension and late in life put on an extra 50 lbs that she carried until her death at age 73 yrs old from a heart attack (after also experiencing a couple of mini strokes). Her mother was never diagnosed with diabetes.
In 2002 in quick succession we experienced; my own disabling battle with depression, resulting in loss of income, forcing us to sell our home, and then shortly afterwards, the worst event of all, our youngest daughter's death (suicide, 21 yrs old at college). These events all occurred in an 18 month period. Somehow, my wife has managed to restart her life only to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last Feb / March ('07).
She has been hypertensive for the last 8 years (takes medication for it), and she gained about 30 lbs onto her petite 5'2" frame - weighing 155 lbs. When she was first diagnosed with diabetes, she experienced a temporary loss of vision for 2 days in one eye. Since her diagnosis she has lost approximately 27 lbs (128 lbs). She looks fantastic and is very disciplined when it comes to testing herself. Also, she is an absolute food cop freak when it comes to watching what she eats and when.
I know that continued stress can wreak havoc on one's physical health. Today she lives in constant fear that her landlord will raise the rent forcing her to move from the apartment she's lived in for the past 4 years. She barely gets by with the income she receives from her job.
How much effect can stress have on a person with known medical condition such as diabetes? I can see stress causing one's blood pressure to elevate. In what other ways can stress play a role in a person's health who has diabetes?
Lastly, since her family has no known diabetes history that would rule out her genetically; is it likely her diabetes is as a result of the series of events described above that culminated with our daughter's shocking and horrific death?
*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
Hi coalminer77. It should be noted that it was quite difficult to secure an answer to your question, but late last week we contacted the University of Maryland School of Medicine and received a wonderfully quick response. My apologies for the delay. Here is your answer from Kristi D. Silver, M.D., associate medical director of the University of Maryland Joslin Diabetes Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine:
I am very sorry to hear of your family's loss. Let me try to answer your question about diabetes and stress. Many patients believe that their diabetes has been caused by stress. While stress can stimulate release of hormones that tend to raise blood sugar levels, the association of stress with diabetes is more likely to be due to an unhealthy life style. Often with stress, people eat an unhealthy diet with higher caloric intake and are less active. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of gaining weight, which in turn is a major risk factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Once a person has diabetes, stress may cause a small rise in blood sugar levels. More often, however, stress leads to a deterioration in blood sugar control as a result of a poor diet and decreased exercise/activity.
Hi coalminer77. Here is another answer to your question from Thomas W. Donner, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Joslin Diabetes Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine:
Stress can affect blood sugar levels in a number of ways. The "stress" hormones that the body releases when stressed cause blood sugar levels to increase. Typically major physical stress raises the blood sugar the most, but psychological stress can as well.
When people are psychologically stressed, their behavior may change in ways that can increase blood sugar levels as well; psychologically stressed persons often increase food intake and decrease physical activity both of which can raise blood sugar levels.
The family history is often positive in persons with type 2 diabetes, but not always. Relatives that may have passed on one or more diabetes genes may not have been known to have diabetes, or died before diabetes was diagnosed.