The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population is living with diabetes. Even though there are medications and therapies to help control glucose levels and allow you to live a nearly normal life, the potential health risks that diabetics face are extremely alarming.
These increased risks include:
- Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the capillaries that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs, resulting in permanent nerve damage.
- Kidney damage. Diabetes can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina, ultimately putting a patient in danger of blindness.
- Foot damage. Nerve damage increases the risk of various foot complications.
- Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to infections.
- Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
- Alzheimer's disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the incidence of dementia in older people.
Unfortunately, although these risks are increased by diabetes, other factors, such as age, can increase them even more. One of the most alarming risks for older diabetics is called peripheral arterial disease.
PAD Risks and Risk Factors
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the narrowing of blood vessels in your legs which cut off blood flow return to your heart. It occurs when blood vessels in the legs are blocked by fatty deposits or plaque, decreasing blood flow to your feet and legs. This blood flow decrease can then lead to serious complications, including:
- Lower-extremity weakness with impaired functional status
- Increased rate of functional decline
- Chronic skin ulceration
PAD affects nearly 8 million diabetics in the United States and 33 percent of people with diabetes over the age of 50 have it in some degree. However, many of those with warning signs don't realize that they have PAD and therefore don't get treatment. This is why it is important to know your risk factors in order to have your podiatrist watch out for signs and help treat it as quickly as possible.
Besides diabetes, additional risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
- Inactive lifestyle
- History of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke
- Family history of heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes
- Age (risks increase exponentially after the age of 50)
Prevention, Treatment, and Care
If you suffer from diabetes, and believe that you may be at risk for PAD, don’t delay treatment. Contact us immediately for an appointment. Our extensive knowledge and experience with diabetic foot care can not only help treat signs of PAD, but also help prevent it.
PAD is a painful and dangerous disease that could cost you your legs (or worse). Don’t let it come to that, especially when we’re eager to help make sure your legs and feet are as healthy as possible. Don’t delay; make an appointment today!