Chicago: People who have developed Type 2 diabetes can live a longer and healthy life if they take good care of themselves. But, part of staying healthy means knowing how to manage the risk of diabetes-related vascular disease, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.
In the United States, more than 30 million people live with diabetes. It is a major risk factor for peripheral artery disease or PAD, a disease the results from blockages that develop in the arteries of the legs. When blockages composed of plaque build up inside leg arteries, it makes them narrow and stiff.
High blood sugar, as seen in diabetes, weakens arteries and makes them vulnerable to plaque buildup. When this happens, it's difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach parts of the body. In its most severe form, PAD can result in amputation of the toes, feet or even the leg. Around 80 to 90 percent of all amputations are performed on patients with diabetes.
"Patients with diabetes are at increased risk for developing foot ulcers," said Dr. Raul Guzman, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery and a surgeon researcher at Harvard University.
Recent findings, reported in the Journal of Vascular Surgery from a research team led by Dr. Marc Schermerhorn, reveal that diabetic patients who require insulin have a higher chance of complications after surgery for PAD.
"We also found that insulin-dependent patients tended to be younger, had more tissue loss at presentation, and suffered from more heart and kidney disease," said Dr. Guzman, a member of the research team.
"Unfortunately, patients who require insulin are more likely to undergo amputation. For this reason, it's important that we learn more about treating this group of patients so that we can improve their long-term outcomes", he added.
Even though most patients do not require surgery, vascular surgeons are the specialists most qualified to treat people with peripheral arterial disease.
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