November marks Diabetes Action Month. This is a time when the world comes together to raise awareness on a chronic disease that affects millions.
Diabetes currently affects more than 250,000 New Zealanders, with type 2 diabetes being the most prominent of the two. One of the main issues type 2 diabetics face is the high risk of poor circulation, and with November marking the start of Diabetes Month, we aim to bring awareness of this common and severe issue facing a vast number of diabetics in New Zealand.
What is diabetes, and how does it affect a person’s circulation?
Diabetes is caused by the inability to process glucose within the body, which can cause a number of issues that affect the circulatory system. The key issues surrounding poor circulation are things like high blood glucose levels and Peripheral Artery Disease.
High blood glucose levels can cause blood vessels to create fatty deposits between the skin and the muscle. After a while, these fatty deposits can cause blood vessels to narrow and harden, decreasing blood flow.
Peripheral Artery Disease (or PAD for short), has a similar effect on blood vessels, where fatty deposits cause the blood vessels to narrow, which can decrease and even cut off blood flow. This disease affects 1 in 3 diabetics over the age of 50, and is mainly found to affect the legs and feet.
Complications caused by poor circulation
The main complications associated with poor circulation are as follows:
- Continual pain while standing or walking
- High risk of infections and ulcers on your feet
- Decrease or loss of feeling in your hands or feet
- Prolonged healing time from wounds
- Neuropathy (nerve damage) that, in some cases, can cause the affected limb to be amputated.
How can you improve circulation as a diabetic?
Thankfully there are a number of ways to help reduce and prevent poor circulation as a diabetic, the main ones being:
- Exercising often and in small doses
- Focusing on exercising the body parts that are most affected
- Eating to encourage a healthy heart
- Compression socks
- Becoming smoke-free
- Maintaining low blood sugars
Although poor circulation is a common, and often dangerous issue that type 2 diabetics in New Zealand face, there are also a number of ways to help prevent or reduce the likelihood of more severe complications occurring. Things like regular exercise and healthy eating can decrease the chances of poor circulation, and help allow for a more painless and happier life. If you are concerned at all about your circulatory health, and wish to know more about your vascular condition, feel free to book an appointment with us here.