When the blood flow to the feet and legs is curtailed because of clogging in arteries, the condition is termed as Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and is a form of cardiovascular disease. It is probable that the condition develops without you even realizing it but the situation worsens if you also have diabetes. This combination of PAD and diabetes can be so dangerous that it can even increase your risk of amputation of whole or part of your leg or foot.
Read on if you have diabetes, to learn about your risk for PAD and also to learn how the dangerous duo can cause serious complications.
Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a chronic metabolic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the level of blood sugar by moving sugar (also called glucose) from the blood into the body cells where they are stored and utilized for energy.
In a healthy person, the body automatically senses how much glucose is in the bloodstream and releases the right amount of insulin to regulate the proper levels. In a person with diabetes, the process is affected and hence, the amount of glucose in the blood goes too high and the cells starve for energy.
PAD is a circulatory disorder that occurs when the narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs and occasionally to your arms.
When plaque, which is made of excessive fat, cholesterol and other substances floating through the bloodstream gradually builds up in the arterial walls, the arteries get narrowed and blocked. Blood does not flow sufficiently to nourish the organs and tissues and this leads to PAD.
Diabetes and PAD – How it turns dangerous
If you are diabetic, the excess sugar can damage the walls of the tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, which nourish the nerves, especially in your legs, a condition called diabetic neuropathy. If left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. This makes it difficult to sense if you have injured your foot or if you have a wound that is becoming infected.
If you suffer from PAD, the blood vessels that supply blood to the legs and feet are narrow, and there is reduced blood supply to those tissues. For wound healing and to fight off infections, proper blood flow to the feet is necessary.
When Diabetes and PAD occur together, the condition may get worse as an existing wound will not heal and you may not be able to feel that there is a problem at all. Hence PAD is considered to be a major risk factor leading to the amputation of a diabetic foot.
If you have diabetes, talk to our experts at Avis Vascular Center. If necessary, a screening test to assess problems with blood circulation to the feet may be recommended. Since most patients with PAD do not have any symptoms, such tests will help doctors understand any blockages in your leg arteries and assess your risk for PAD.
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