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PAD and Diabetes – The Connection Not to Ignore

Diabetes is a debilitating affliction that not only affects quality of life, but also can be life-threatening. Diabetes is a group of diseases that is characterized by too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose): Type I occurs in childhood. Type II can creep up over time due to insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes can emerge during a pregnancy.

What increases the onset of diabetes risks?

  • Genetics, family history
  • Ethnic background
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Age
  • For women: polycystic ovary syndrome

Whatever your diabetes risks, there are things you can do proactively to delay or fight back. These include managing/monitoring your blood pressure (likely with medications), keeping your weight within or near a healthy range, getting 30 minutes of exercise on most days and eating a balanced diet.

My Diabetes Can Cause WHAT?!

As much as you can try to do on your own, be careful. Diabetes is a serious condition and you will need to be diligent about detection and treatment. The sneaky disease is linked to several other serious vascular diseases, including:

  • Retinopathy, which is an abnormal growth of blood vessels in your retina
  • Nephropathy, a disease that damages the tiny filtering units of the kidney
  • Neuropathy, a condition causing a loss of sensation in the feet and toes
  • Atherosclerosis, affecting the arteries characterized by the deposit of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.

PAD and Diabetes

Let’s talk about Peripheral Artery Disease for a moment, because diabetes is one of the most common risk factors for PAD, especially in patients over 50 years old. According to the American Heart Association, people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, the most common cause of Peripheral Artery Disease. And individuals with PAD have a much higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Peripheral artery disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits and cholesterol) on the walls of the arteries. Over time, the arteries can become so narrow that it is difficult for blood to flow through to bring oxygen to the muscle, organs and tissue.

The most common symptoms of PAD are pain, cramping and severe discomfort in the legs that occur while walking, climbing stairs or exercising. The pain usually dissipates during rest, but the legs may also feel achy, heavy, numb, weak and even tingly to the point of waking you at night.

PAD and Lam Vascular

At Lam Vascular & Associates, we can successfully diagnose PAD by initially checking the pulse in your feet and performing a non-invasive test called ankle brachial pressure index (ABI). This is used to compare the blood pressure in your arms with the blood pressure in your ankles. Based on test results, you may undergo an ultrasound to evaluate blood flow. Further testing may include an MRI or CT angiography which helps identify the extent of narrowing in your blood vessels.

The first steps in managing PAD are medication and reducing risk, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, losing weight and stopping smoking. In more severe cases, Dr. Lam may recommend one of these minimally-invasive vascular procedures: angioplasty and stenting; or laser atherectomy. These procedures serve to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the legs, resulting in increased blood flow to the peripheral tissue.

They are minimally-invasive, completed in-office and use only local anesthesia (and possibly a mild sedative). Thus, a hospital stay is usually not required and recovery time is relatively quick. Most patients are able to resume normal activities shortly after their procedure.

What You Gain

Our goals at Lam Vascular & Associates are to alleviate pain and to save your limbs from amputation. We want to help you return to the quality of life you deserve so you can enjoy the things you like to do. Whether it’s traveling, playing with your grandchildren or simply walking comfortably, we can help you get there.

Trust your legs to Lam Vascular & Associates. We specialize in minimally-invasive, same-day vascular surgery. For your comfort and convenience, we have locations in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas. Click here to schedule an initial appointment and/or screening to get a leg up on your health.


The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.

The information contained in this website is neither intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate or best care for any given health issue, nor is it intended to be used as a substitute for the independent judgment of a physician for any given health issue. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history. Please seek physician's advice. Like any procedure, it may come with benefits, risks or side effects associated. Click here for additional information.

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