Type 2 diabetes, an epidemic affecting nearly 30 million Americans, is a chronic condition in which the body resists insulin. Insulin is the hormone that regulates movement of sugar from the blood into cells, where it’s converted to energy. It can many take years of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices, and sometimes genetics, for diabetes to develop. Diabetes can’t be cured, only managed with lifestyle changes, such as controlling the intake of sugar and carbohydrates and/or medication.
The signs of type 2 diabetes, which occur when blood sugar levels get abnormally high, include:
Diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing a number of serious cardiovascular issues, including: peripheral arterial disease (PAD), coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, stroke, narrowing of arteries, and high blood pressure. CAD is the leading cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes. In addition, one in three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to develop PAD. PAD occurs as a result of arteries hardening and narrowing (a process called atherosclerosis), which can significantly restrict blood flow to the legs and feet. PAD is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. PAD often goes undiagnosed until it is severe.
Classic symptoms of PAD include: pain and cramping in the thighs, calf muscles, and hips after physical activity, such as walking. This is called claudication. It can also cause leg numbness and weakness. PAD is diagnosed with a simple test called an ankle-brachial index (ABI) in which blood pressure in the ankle is compared to blood pressure in the arm.