Hidden Dangers of Diabetes

hidden dangers of diabetes

By David Martin, RN, CEO and President, VeinInnovations

Diabetes comes with so many complications: vision problems, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, potential kidney failure and nerve damage. It truly affects the body from head to toe. On top of that, many people who suffer from diabetes also suffer from chronic venous insufficiency, creating additional risks.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a hereditary and progressive medical condition wherein the leg veins, which carry blood to the heart and lungs, are compromised by failed valves. These delicate one-way valves normally keep blood from flowing backward. When they fail, however, blood is able to flow backward, pooling and creating pressure on veins. This pressure often results in spider veins, varicose veins, swelling, pain, restlessness and itching. In extreme cases, this pressure and fluid lead to a breakdown of the tissue and ultimately, an ulcer. This is a dangerous and uncomfortable condition for anyone, but for people with diabetes, venous stasis ulcers are even more of a cause for concern than usual.

For diabetics, healing is more difficult because high blood sugar narrows and hardens blood vessels, compromising blood flow and the delivery of nutrients essential for healing. Further, if nerves are damaged, a patient may not feel the pain caused by ulcers. Because of the tendency toward ulcers, it is imperative that patients who are both obese and diabetic carefully monitor their bodies for skin and vein changes.

For someone with diabetes, it is especially important to have a duplex Doppler ultrasound of the leg veins done from time to time to make sure venous flow has not been compromised. If there is an issue with reflux, minimally invasive procedures done in-office and with local anesthesia can reroute blood in failed veins to healthier veins, relieving pressure and delivering better blood flow. The resulting improvements to circulation help patients have a much better chance for faster, more complete healing.

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