Diabetes mellitus, a condition which occurs when too much glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood due to lack of insulin or insulin resistance, can cause disease throughout the body. The excess blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels and can eventually lead to stroke, blindness, kidney failure, skin ulcers and/or amputation. Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for any form of vascular disease.
Diabetes is linked to several vascular diseases with vascular aspects:
- Retinopathy – tiny blood vessels in the retina become swollen and block oxygen supply to the retina.
- Nephropathy – deterioration of kidney function
- Neuropathy – deterioration and loss of sensation in the legs and feet. Patients who do not feel pain in their feet or legs can easily become injured. These injuries can become ulcers that do not heal, and eventually lead to partial or total amputation.
- Atherosclerosis – “hardening of the arteries” or blockages caused by plaque that can cause a stroke.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) – Atherosclerosis that affects the legs or lower extremities.
Vascular surgeons are the only specialists who are trained to perform the full range of procedures to improve blood flow for diabetic patients and hopefully avoid the sometimes life-altering complications of poor blood flow.