We often hear about diabetes and how it is a lifelong battle for people who are diagnosed with this disease. The most common form of this condition is type 2 diabetes, which affects the way your body uses insulin. Over 30 million people living in the United States are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
People with type 2 diabetes do not use insulin properly, but what is insulin? Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas to help turn glucose from the food you eat into energy for your cells. People with type 2 diabetes are unable to use insulin as they should, known as insulin resistance, which causes the pancreas to make more insulin. This leads to the build-up of sugar in your blood.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can be caused by both uncontrollable and controllable risk factors. The most common uncontrollable risk factors include being over the age of 45, having a family history of diabetes, or being of African American, Alaskan Native, Native American, Hispanic or Latino, or Pacific Islander-American decent.
Controllable risk factors include getting little to no exercise, being overweight, smoking, too much stress, or sleeping too little or too much.
If you have any of these risk factors it is important to look out for symptoms of type 2 diabetes. These symptoms can be:
- Increased level of thirst
- Increased frequency of urination
- Blurred vision
- Feeling tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
- Slow or non-healing wounds
- More frequent yeast infections
- Mood swings
Having one or multiple of these symptoms can be an indication of type 2 diabetes. Talking with your doctor will help you manage this disease, however, you need to understand that type 2 diabetes is not curable. This makes it essential that you and your doctor make up a plan to treat type 2 diabetes, so you don’t develop more serious conditions. Type 2 diabetes can become a difficult condition to manage on its own, but it can also increase your risk of developing other conditions, like peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Diabetes: A Major Risk Factor for PAD
One in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to develop PAD. According to the American Heart Association, diabetes increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis which is the main cause of PAD. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats and cholesterol (plaque) in or on your artery walls, which restricts blood flow. PAD occurs when the arteries supplying blood to your limbs, most commonly your feet or legs, become clogged with plaque to such a degree that blood cannot flow through your limbs. Even if you don’t think you have peripheral artery disease in addition to your diabetes, it’s important to know the signs of PAD since you are at an increased risk of developing the condition.
Symptoms of PAD
People with PAD usually experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain in your legs or feet that disturbs your sleep
- Slow or non-healing wounds on your legs or feet
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- Fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, or cramping in your leg muscles that stops when you’re at rest
- Lower temperature in one leg compared to the other
- Poor toenail growth
- Decreased hair growth on your legs or feet
- Color changes to the skin on your feet
Many people with PAD may not seek treatment because they think their pain is caused by arthritis or aging. This is a common misconception that may cause people to put off getting diagnosed and treatment, which consequently can be life-threatening.
If you are diagnosed with PAD in addition to your diabetes, your doctor may recommend making some lifestyle changes. These could include:
- Quit smoking
- Lower high blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood glucose levels
- Follow a healthy diet
- Lose weight
However, if the blood flow to one of your legs or feet is blocked, your doctor may recommend a procedure known as stent angioplasty. Stent angioplasty improves your blood circulation by inserting a catheter into the affected artery so a mesh stent can be implanted. Once the stent is in place, a tiny balloon expands it to compress the formation of plaque so your blood flow improves through your artery. This procedure is minimally invasive and does not involve surgery.
Non-surgical PAD Treatment at USA Vascular Centers
If you have diabetes and peripheral artery disease, take control of your vascular health by talking to your doctor or reaching out to USA Vascular Centers. Our doctors are trained in minimally invasive procedures and will walk you through your entire treatment process. You don’t need to suffer with debilitating symptoms any longer: take the next step by scheduling an initial consultation today.