Effects of diabetes on the vascular system

Leg Ulcers: effects of diabetes on the vascular system

With so many Americans affected by diabetes, we have all heard stories about this important health condition and the frightening impact it can have on the body. In that flurry of information, however, it can be easy to miss the details on just how this condition really effects the body. Have you considered, for example, that an unsightly and painful leg ulcer may be a sign of diabetes?

What is diabetes?

The level of glucose in the blood is a reflection of the amount of sugar in the diet but is, more importantly, an indicator of how well the body is utilizing sugars from the diet. Diabetes is a condition that develops when the ability of the cells to adequately take up glucose from the blood is reduced. Sometimes, regulation of blood sugar levels can be returned to normal with lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. In some patients, however, supplementing the body’s natural production of the hormone insulin or use of other drugs may be essential to regain control of blood sugar levels.

What makes diabetes such a major healthcare concern?

Diabetes causes all tissues and organs of the body to be bathed in excess sugar. As a result, any or all parts of the body can begin to function abnormally. One way in which such malfunction occur is with the formation of what is known as advanced glycation end products, or “AGEs,” that accumulate in excess on sugar-soaked tissues. This can cause malfunctioning of nerve cells, leading to damage referred to as diabetic “neuropathy.” A similar process occurring in the kidneys contributes to the development of diabetic “nephropathy.”

Any of the body’s blood vessels can also be damaged as the sugar-laden blood travels throughout the body. AGEs contribute to the development of vascular malfunction that often occurs in various parts of the body in diabetic patients. Such “vasculopathy” is one of the reasons why diabetes raises the risk for heart attack, stroke and visual impairment. It also makes diabetes an important cause of painful and unsightly leg ulcers.

What are diabetic leg ulcers and how can they be treated?

Although blood vessels in any and all parts of the body can be impacted by diabetes, the leg veins are especially susceptible to damage and ulceration. Keep in mind that the return of blood against gravity from the feet toward the heart is naturally aided by special valves inside of the veins and the pumping action of the leg muscles. Therefore, anything causing damage to the veins or reducing physical activities levels, such as diabetes and complications due to diabetes, can significantly increase the risk of venous insufficiency and leg ulcer formation.

The most appropriate option for the treatment of diabetic leg ulcers will depend on factors such as the extent of the damage and the health of surrounding blood vessels. Several surgical treatment options for leg ulcers are available including ligation and revascularization.

Choosing your vein care specialists

Even if this article is intended to provide helpful information, it cannot replace professional medical advice. If you or someone you care for have questions or concerns regarding vascular health, please contact a qualified healthcare professional near you.

Consider turning to Dr. Amish Tilara, M.D. at the Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center for your vascular health care needs. The Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center is located in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Dr. Amish Tilara, M.D. and his team also serve the surrounding areas of Duluth, Dacula, Buford, Grayson, Lilburn, Norcross, Snellville, and Suwanee. Find out today which treatment options available at the Atlanta Vascular and Vein Center can help get you feeling – and looking – your very best.

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