Many times, during the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes, the discussion casually drifts towards poor circulation.
It can be something like; You know I always have poor circulation in my feet.
Well, this is what you need to know. Poor circulation is not normal. Poor circulation can be a sign of a more serious condition called peripheral arterial disease. What are some of the factors that put a person at risk for developing peripheral arterial disease?
Smoking cigarettes. In one study, people peripheral arterial disease who smoked were at increased risk of:
Type 2 diabetes, especially in those over 50.
High cholesterol levels
High blood pressure (hypertension)
People over 70 years old
If you have had blocked arteries elsewhere. This is called atherosclerosis. For example, angina (chest pains) or a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease. You may notice that many of the above factors, except smoking, type 2 diabetics are at risk of developing anyway.
Do you see now why poor circulation is something that cannot be ignored?
Peripheral arterial disease is the leading cause of nontraumatic amputations in the United States.
I have come across some myths in people with type 2 diabetes, especially African Americans. One of these myths was that if you were diagnosed with diabetes, your legs would eventually be cut off. In fact, they could usually tell me stories of friends or family who had had this happen to.
A myth doesn’t have to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I want to dispel this myth. I want to show that people living with diabetes do not have to give up on life. They don’t have to wait for their legs to be amputated. End up on dialysis, have a heart attack or stroke.
To change a statistic, we need to increase our awareness.
How do you know if you have peripheral artery disease?
A common complaint that people have is surrender. Claudication causes pain and / or cramps in the legs. They can start walking. I have to stop because of the pain. And then start walking again. Then they have to stop again.
As peripheral arterial disease worsens, leg pain can occur even at rest. Many people can describe this as leg cramps or like a Charlie horse. Peripheral arterial disease can cause less hair on the legs. Toenails can become brittle and break easily. The skin can also become darker and brighter.