Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) impacts nearly 5 million American’s with at least 1 in 5 of those having diabetes. The true number of PAD in people with diabetes is difficult to determine because many patients are asymptomatic, do not report their symptoms or their pain perception is dulled by neuropathy. Regardless of the actual number or reason(s) for lack of diagnosis PAD is a real problem for people with diabetes and can contribute to the rate of amputations among diabetics.
PAD is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue, and other substances in the blood.
When plaque builds up in the body’s arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This limits the flow of blood to your organs and other parts of your body. PAD usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach.
PAD increases your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke which are also potential complications of diabetes. If you have coronary heart disease, you have a 1 in 3 chance of having blocked leg arteries.