Diabetes Self-Management Blog

You may know that having diabetes raises your risk for atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of arteries caused by the buildup of fatty plaque. And you may have heard that atherosclerosis often affects the arteries near the heart, leading to angina or a heart attack.
But did you know that atherosclerosis can affect the arteries in other parts of the body, as well?

When atherosclerosis affects the arteries in your legs, it causes peripheral arterial disease, or PAD (also known as peripheral vascular disease). PAD can block blood flow in the legs, causing a cramping pain called intermittent claudication and slowing the healing of wounds on the feet. Wounds that can’t heal develop into ulcers, which may become infected or develop gangrene and require amputation.

A person with diabetes is 20 times more likely to develop PAD than someone without diabetes. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) estimates that 8-12 million Americans over the age of 50 have PAD. To raise awareness of the condition, the NHLBI has designated the week of September 18-22 “Stay in Circulation Week.” During this week, health organizations across the country will host events to raise awareness of PAD. Some organizations are partnering with the NHLBI to offer free PAD screenings. To find a screening site near you, check out the Web site of the Legs for Life program. Most of these screenings require advance registration.

Whether you’re able to attend a screening or not, the NHLBI recommends learning more about PAD so that you can talk to your doctor about your risk. The Web site www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pad/pad_what.html is a good place to start.


  1. Do PAD and PN share in symptoms in a diabetic?

    Posted by sugar |
  2. Sugar,

    You can read more about symptoms of peripheral neuropathy here. You might also like to check out our article Taking Steps Toward Healthy Feet, which discusses both neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.

    Posted by Tara Dairman, Web Editor |
  3. I recently had an ABI (Ankle Brachial Pressure Index Test) and my ratio was 1.31.
    I showed this to my doctor, and he said that was normal, He said anything over .9 is good. I showed him printouts from several websites showing that for diabetics it was very common to have ratios at/above 1.3 indicating calcifications and possible PVD. He said that this was wrong, and wanted to argue with me. My diabetes is under control (A1C of 6.2) w/Metformin. I finally forced his hand, and got him to schedule a PVR (Pulse Volume Recording) which I read is not affected by calcification.

    Was I right to force the issue?

    I am having a lot of lower leg/ankle pain, especially when walking, walking around WalMart for an hour becomes extremely painful (and tingly to the touch) and even the lower top of my calf/ankle becomes RED. I mentioned the discoloration to my doctor and he just shrugged.

    Should I be concerned?

    Posted by bobwilley |

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