Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes

Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes

Peripheral Arterial Disease in people with Diabetes is a common complication that might lead to the exacerbation of certain risk factors. Unfortunately, PAD is left highly undiagnosed and untreated, despite the fact that the American Diabetes Association has estimated that about 1 in 3 people with diabetes has PAD as well.  

This outlook is dangerous. Especially when one notes the increased risk of heart attack and stroke, something that comes hand in hand with the clogged arteries that characterizes someone with PAD.  

Relationship Between PAD and Diabetes 

The most common cause for PAD is a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition is marked by blood vessels lined with fatty deposits that forces said arteries to narrow and results in the decreased flow of blood. Diabetes enters into the equation by increasing the chances of a person developing atherosclerosis, which thus leads to that person being more predisposed to developing PAD.  

Risk Factors 

People who are affected by PAD symptomatically might experience the following in various levels of severity and constancy: 

  • Pain or Numbness in the hips, legs, feet, calves, etc. (Claudication) 
  • Sores or Infections that do not heal along the legs and feet 
  • and the risk of developing gangrene, which could lead to amputation of the legs and feet (Critical Limb Ischemia) 

On the other hand, approximately half of the people with PAD experience it asymptomatically. That means that they won’t have to deal with any of the more common symptoms (or experience any symptoms at all), but it also means that they are at a higher risk for being left undiagnosed and untreated. 

As mentioned, this is a dangerous outlook, especially if the patient also has Diabetes. As the chances of the condition leading to a heart attack, stroke, or even death are increased exponentially.  


According to the NHS, there is no cure for PAD, only lifestyle changes and medication that slows the progression of the condition. A clinical review conducted in 2006 by a Dr. Graeme, breaks this down further by elucidating what lifestyle changes and medication might mean if the patient has diabetes as well.  

If Peripheral Arterial Disease exists along with Diabetes, lifestyle changes come in the form of smoking cessation and increased physical activity. Whilst medication might take the form of prescription drugs (antihypertensives, statins, antiplatelets) that help regulate cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.  

Of course, a big part of treating PAD in people with Diabetes is getting diagnosed. As mentioned, PAD exists both symptomatically and asymptomatically, so the patient might not necessarily experience any of the symptoms that come along with it. Making it vital that they get checked out as regularly as they can.  

Conclusion – Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes 

Peripheral Arterial Disease in people with Diabetes should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If you are over 50 years of age, with a history in diabetes (or relation to someone with diabetes) and a predilection for smoking, then you might want to consider getting ABI tested to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.  



  1. NHS Choices, NHS, 
  2. Hankey, Graeme J. “Medical Treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 1 Feb. 2006, 
  3. “Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).” American Diabetes Association,