Diabetes and vascular conditions are closely related. People with diabetes have more risk of developing some vascular problems. This is because the high blood sugar levels of diabetes can damage blood vessels over time.
There are vascular conditions linked to diabetes
Find some vascular conditions linked to diabetes below.
Diabetes can lead to narrowing and hardening of the arteries in the legs, known as Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. This can mean less blood flow to the legs and feet, causing pain, cramping and wounds to not heal well. Worse cases can lead to gangrene and having limbs removed.
Atherosclerosis, is a build up of fat spots (plaque) in the blood. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing these, which can affect many blood vessels, including those in the heart (coronary artery disease, see below), brain (stroke) and legs (PAD, see above).
People with diabetes also have more risk of blood clots and plaque in the blood vessels in the brain, bringing with it more risk of stroke.
Diabetes is a big risk factor for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or narrowing of the coronary arteries. This can lead to angina (chest pain) or heart attacks.
High blood pressure also poses a risk for those with diabetes, because high blood pressure can mean more risk of vascular issues. As well, diabetes may damage the blood vessels in the retina, called Diabetic retinopathy. Following, this can lead to eye problems and blindness if left.
Blood vessels in the kidneys may also be at risk of damage or kidney failure. Nerve damage may also be caused by diabetes. Meaning poor blood flow, especially in the feet and lower legs.
Diabetes and blood sugar: managing is key
Managing diabetes and vascular conditions means keeping blood glucose within target ranges.
Eating healthy food and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control are all key for managing vascular risks. So, too, is exercise. As well as this, a person with diabetes should not smoke or give up if they do.
Your vascular specialist or doctor may advise on medicine to control blood pressure or lower cholesterol, as well as medicine to help stop blood clots. People with diabetes need lots of checkins with their healthcare team to help reduce the risk of vascular problems.
November 14 is world Diabetes Awareness day.