What is the Link Between Diabetes and Vascular Disease?
Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar or glucose. For healthy individuals, insulin – a hormone naturally produced in the pancreas – helps cells use available glucose for energy. However, when insulin cannot be adequately produced, glucose can’t be processed as intended, often leading to serious side effects.
Vascular complications are among the most common challenges for those with diabetes. High blood sugar can alter the efficacy of oxygen distribution, resulting in blood vessels that don’t work properly. Compromised blood vessels do not thoroughly circulate blood throughout the body, leaving the extremities, like the hands and feet, without access to adequate, oxygenated blood.
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a vascular condition that’s common in those with unmanaged diabetes. Occurring when plaque builds up in the arteries and reduces blood flow to the hands and feet, PAD is often more serious in those with diabetes, as high blood sugar levels can exacerbate plaque development. One of the early symptoms of PAD is leg pain while walking which goes away when at rest.
When severe or left untreated, PAD can lead to peripheral neuropathy or a loss of sensation in the legs and the development of sores and ulcers. Should these cases progress without medical care, amputation is often the only option to stop the degradation of tissue.
If you have symptoms of PAD or another vascular disease, proper medical attention is essential. With a doctor’s diagnosis, you can learn more about the severity of your condition, as well as the opportunities for recourse. If you have received a diabetes diagnosis and are experiencing leg pain, the time to seek care is now.