THE DIABETES CAREGIVER: Health Conditions
Learn the signs of diabetes-related circulation problems
Numbness in the hands or feet, cramping of the calf muscles or cold feet might indicate serious complications from diabetes.
Just as blockages of the blood vessels disrupt blood flow to the heart and brain, blocked arteries can reduce blood flow to the arms and legs. This serious condition is known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and the American Diabetes Association estimates one out of three people with diabetes over age 50 suffers from it.
Symptoms you should look for include:
-Numbness in the hands or feet
-Cramping of the calf muscles (intermittent claudication)
-Change of skin color (redness, blackness, blueness)
-Sores that are slow to heal
If you spot any of these signs, report them to the healthcare provider right way.
At its worst, PVD can cause gangrene or serious infection and result in amputation of the affected body part. But preventive approaches can reduce the risk of serious problems. Good control of blood glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure is important to keep the blood flowing through the body. Too much glucose in the blood speeds up arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Exercise helps by reducing blood glucose levels and improving blood cholesterol levels.
Doctors also use medications and surgical approaches to treat PVD. Ask your physician about his or her recommendations.