People who have Diabetes are two to four times more likely to have Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) than people who do not. 

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

  • There are over 240,000 New Zealanders’ diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes
  • It is thought that there are another 100,000 people with this disease who don’t know it.
  • Type 2 Diabetes usually develops in adulthood.
  • Diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to keep blood glucose (sugar) levels within a normal range.
  • High glucose in the blood can damage arteries and veins (and other parts of your body) over time.
  • In Type 2 Diabetes
    • either your body doesn’t produce enough insulin
    • or cells in the body don’t recognise the insulin in the body -either way the end result is the same – high glucose in your blood.

Who is at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in New Zealand?

  • Maori, Asian, Middle Eastern or Pacific Island descent aged 30 years or older
  • Europeans 40 years of age or older
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • Diagnosed with having pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance)
  • Obesity

When sugar levels are too high for too long, or swing up and down for too long, patients put themselves at risk of serious health complications.  PAD is one of these complications.

What exactly is PAD?

It is often described simple as a blockage or narrowing of an artery – away from the heart.  This is caused by atherosclerotic (fatty) plaques found inside the artery wall.  Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue.  PAD usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it can affect arteries that carry blood to your brain, vital organs and arms. 

What are the symptoms?

When you develop PAD, your extremities (most often legs) do not receive enough blood flow to keep up with the demand.  Many people have mild or no symptoms, some people may have leg pain on walking – this is called claudication.  Other symptoms include:

  • Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf – after walking or climbing stairs
  • Coldness in your lower legs or feet
  • Injuries that won’t heal in your feet
  • Shiny skin on your legs
  • Weak or no pulses in your legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

Is PAD treatable?

Yes. Our two vascular surgeons are specialists in diagnosing and treating PAD.

Does it matter if I have diabetes and PAD? 

Yes.  When you have PAD and diabetes – you can be a major risk factor for lower-extremity amputation  Even if you don’t have symptoms PAD is a marker for systemic vascular disease involving coronary, cerebral, and renal vessels, leading to an elevated risk of events, such as myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and death.

Diabetes and smoking are the strongest risk factors for PAD. Other well-known risk factors are advanced age, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

What is the connection between PAD and Type 2 Diabetes?  Diabetes accelerates arterialscerosis. 

How is PAD diagnosed by a SVH surgeon?

How can PAD be treated?

Can I be screened for PAD if I have risk factors but no symptoms?

Yes.  If you are over 70 or over 50 with diabetes or a history of smoking.  People who have these two risk factors are most at risk of developing PAD.

Is it easy to be tested for Type 2 Diabetes?

Yes.  You can go to your GP and share your concerns.  Your doctor will send you for a blood and urine test at your local lab.  If your results are borderline your GP may ask you to have further tests and or make lifestyle changes.

When should I see a SVH surgeon?

  • Your GP can refer you or we do accept patients directly referring themselves.  
  • If you have pain or numbness or any other symptoms don’t ignore them as part of normal aging.   

What will happen when I have booked to see a SVH surgeon?

We have developed a three stage patient pathway which includes

  • Consultation
  • Diagnosis – We will book you for the appropriate scan(s) at our SVH ultrasound lab.
  • Treatment – recommendations and a plan will be made with you after diagnosis is completed.