What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical condition that alters how the body turns food into energy. The human body naturally produces insulin to turn sugar from food into energy. However, when a person has diabetes, their body is either unable to produce enough insulin or doesn’t use it productively. 

Two types of diabetes exist: Type 1 and Type 2. Each type impacts the body differently and can lead to other serious medical conditions. Diabetes is one risk factor for developing peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is a condition caused when blood flow is restricted by plaque buildup in the arteries. 

PAD is a progressive disease that can worsen over time, but USA Vascular Centers can help minimize or eliminate symptoms through a personalized treatment plan.


Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes: What is the Difference?

Type 1 diabetes, often affecting children and teens, occurs when the pancreas produces little to no insulin. This disease requires anyone who is diagnosed with Type 1 to take insulin every day. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to utilize insulin, despite it being produced correctly. Most people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2, which typically develops later in life. 

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes. However, it is important to note that it can develop at any age. 

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Frequent hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is most commonly diagnosed among older people, but it can also develop at any age. With Type 2 diabetes, not all of the insulin required to break down sugar is used, which results in higher than normal blood glucose levels. 

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Darkened skin, usually around the armpits and neck
  • Sores and infections that are slow to heal
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

 What Causes Diabetes?

Genetics can play a role in whether a person will develop diabetes. If a parent or other close family member was diabetic, your risk for the disease increases. This is true for both types of diabetes.

Type 1: Although the cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, it is commonly thought to be the result of an autoimmune reaction. During this reaction, the body mistakenly attacks the insulin-making cells in the pancreas.

Type 2: Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused by cells becoming resistant to insulin, the cause of which is unknown. There are a number of risk factors that may predisposition you to developing this condition, including:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides
  • Obesity
  • Higher fat distribution in the abdomen than the hips and thighs 
  • Advanced age (45+)

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

One method of diagnosing diabetes involves a blood sugar level test. This test will indicate if levels are abnormal and suggestive of either diabetes or of pre-diabetes.

Another test, a fasting blood test, requires the patient to abstain from eating overnight. Once this blood test has been taken, the reading will show whether the patient is diabetic. For either test, a blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL is normal while levels over 126 mg/dL indicate diabetes. 

What Are Potential Complications of Diabetes?

Diabetes increases the level of glucose in the blood and urine. This situation can lead to kidney disease and other serious health problems. Having uncontrolled Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can cause several complications, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Foot issues
  • Vision loss
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

PAD and Diabetes

PAD and diabetes are often seen together in patients because the risk factors for PAD also increase the risk for diabetes. For example, a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can lead to diabetes (inability to process insulin correctly) and PAD. People who have been diagnosed with diabetes have an increased risk of atherosclerosis, which is also the primary cause of PAD.

Schedule a Consultation with USA Vascular Centers

If you have diabetes and have been diagnosed with or experience symptoms of PAD, it is important to seek treatment. USA Vascular Centers can evaluate your condition and determine the best non-surgical treatment for your unique situation. Schedule a consultation online or give us a call at 888.773.2193.



Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve the quality of your life; help you keep your independence and mobility; and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, and even death.