Can You Lose A Limb From Lack Of Blood Flow Type 2 Diabetes – Preventing Critical Limb Ischemia in Diabetics

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Type 2 Diabetes – Preventing Critical Limb Ischemia in Diabetics

Anyone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is at risk of developing what is known as critical limb ischemia, a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the extremities develop plaque within their walls. When this happens, not enough oxygen can reach the cells and the cells develop ischemia, which can lead to cell death. Different doctors consider it an advanced form of peripheral artery disease (PAD), while others consider it a separate condition.

If there are enough dead cells in the limbs, the limbs are susceptible to infection. The immune system cannot effectively fight infections if blood flow is slow. Critical limb ischemia is not always diagnosed until serious problems such as gangrene develop. Scientists at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Hubei, China have found a molecule that could be used to diagnose critical limb ischemia before it progresses to a critical stage. The magazine reported on their work in September 2017 Scientific reports.

A molecule called Siglec-5 was found in cases where type 2 diabetics were diagnosed with ischemia. The molecule was seen in plaque samples taken from the limbs of those with ischemia, but not in the arteries of diabetic patients without plaque. The researchers concluded that Siglec-5 levels could be used to prevent or plan treatment in critical limb ischemia.

In the United States, about 500 to 1,000 cases of chronic limb ischemia are diagnosed each year for every million people, with about 8 to 10 million cases existing at any one time. Global statistics are not available.

The following may increase the risk of critical limb ischemia…

  • age over 60 years or in the period after menopause,

  • be a smoker

  • with type 2 diabetes,

  • overweight or obesity,

  • leading a sedentary lifestyle,

  • have high cholesterol levels,

  • high blood pressure,

  • family history of blood vessel disease.

Anyone diagnosed with critical limb ischemia may have foot pain at rest. Muscle pain, described as burning or cramping, can be felt in the muscles and is relieved by rest. In more severe cases, ulcers or gangrene may occur. The condition is diagnosed with a technique known as pulse volume recording, or with ultrasound, a technique used to show blood flow, or the lack of it, in the legs and feet.

In mild cases, treatment may include…

  • blood sugar control,

  • taking medication to lower cholesterol levels,

  • lowering high blood pressure,

  • weight loss and

  • smoking cessation.

In other cases, angioplasty may be used. A tube with a small balloon can be inserted into the affected arteries. The balloon is inflated to help remove plaque.

Another option is surgery. Clogged veins can be replaced with artificial arteries.

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