What is the link between Diabetes and PAD?
People with diabetes are at higher risk for having PAD. Some studies have found that one out of three people with diabetes over age 50 has PAD, and PAD is even more common in African Americans and Hispanics who have diabetes. Having PAD and diabetes can be a very serious problem. People who have both diseases are much more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who just have PAD, and they are more likely to die at a younger age. Because many people with diabetes do not have feeling in their feet or legs due to nerve disease, they may have PAD but cannot feel any symptoms. As a result, they do not know they have PAD, or they may have it for a long time before it is diagnosed. Further, when blood flow to your feet and legs is narrowed or blocked due to PAD, it takes longer for cuts or wounds to heal, which may increase the risk for amputation (or losing a foot or leg). If you have diabetes, talk with your health care provider right away if you have any of these PAD warning signs:
- Fatigue, tiredness or pain in your legs, thighs or buttocks that always happens when you walk but that goes away when you rest.
- Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs your sleep.
- Skin sores or wounds on your feet or toes that are slow to heal.
Most people with PAD do not have any symptoms. Guidelines released by leading vascular organizations recommend that people with diabetes over the age of 50 be tested for PAD. Testing is also recommended for people with diabetes under the age of 50 with other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure or cholesterol problems.
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