Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

The Link Between Diabetes and PAD

More than 30 million people suffer from vein problems each year, and more than 100 million Americans live with diabetes or its precursor, prediabetes. These numbers stand out even more when you realize that diabetes is linked to vein conditions. One of those linked conditions is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can turn painful and serious if left untreated. 

Dr. Rishin Shah, a vascular expert with more than a decade of experience, shares the facts about PAD and diabetes, and how these two conditions are related. 

What is peripheral artery disease? 

PAD develops when fatty deposits build up on the walls of your blood vessels, causing them to narrow. This condition commonly affects people with Type 2 diabetes (more on that later), who also tend to develop high cholesterol and heart disease. 

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, PAD affects millions of Americans, but the bigger problem is that many people with PAD don’t know they have it because there are few signs and symptoms. Even when there are signs and symptoms, it’s easy to overlook them or attribute them to something else. 

Possible warning signs of PAD include:

PAD is similar to coronary artery disease (blockage in arteries that supply blood to your heart) and carotid artery disease (blockage in arteries that supply blood to your brain), except that PAD involves arteries leading to your extremities, most often in the legs and feet. 

What is diabetes? 

Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that involve problems with blood sugar. Glucose (sugar) is your body’s most readily available source of energy for the cells, and it’s your brain’s main source of fuel. 

Essentially, when you have diabetes, your body can’t properly use and store the sugar you eat, which leaves this sugar to accumulate in your blood, and it can lead to various health complications if left untreated. 

Chronic diabetes conditions include Type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition) and Type 2 diabetes (also called adult-onset diabetes). Type 2 diabetes is the type associated with PAD. 

How are diabetes and PAD related?

The relationship between diabetes and PAD is multifaceted, but the general concept is that people with diabetes have a higher risk of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque on artery walls. Plaque consists of fat, cholesterol, and other substances that restrict blood flow through your arteries. 

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of PAD, and because people with diabetes are more likely to develop atherosclerosis, they’re more likely to develop PAD as well.  

If you have diabetes and another PAD risk factor, your risk of developing PAD increases significantly. Other PAD risk factors include: 

To learn more about PAD, visit our PAD FAQ. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Shah, call one of our Texas locations or book online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Leg Pain and Vein Disease: Understanding the Link

If you have pain in your legs, it’s easy to assume it’s from physical exertion or maybe the aches and pains of getting older. But chronic leg pain is not normal — and often, it’s caused by your veins. Here’s how the two are related.

5 Encouraging Facts About Your PAD Diagnosis

Peripheral artery disease is a serious condition that needs ongoing management. However, with the right treatment plan, you can stay healthy. Here are five things you should know about PAD and your health.

4 Ways to Minimize Your Spider Veins

With their purplish, bluish, or reddish weblike appearance, spider veins are aptly named. They’re also common — but you can take steps to reduce your risk of spider veins and their symptoms. Here are four tips to try.

How Does COVID-19 Affect the Heart?

COVID-19 infection has been linked with serious heart problems, even in people who haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease. If you’ve had COVID-19, here are five ways the infection could harm your heart.

5 Reasons to See a Specialist About Your Veins

Your vascular system is a complex system of delicate blood vessels that are vulnerable to their own health issues. If your veins are in trouble, you may have symptoms, and we can help. Read on to learn more.

The Link Between Sleep Quality and Heart Health

Think missing a few hours of sleep every few nights is okay? Think again. Quality deep sleep is one of the most important elements of optimal long-term health, including the health of your heart. Read on to learn more.