Diabetes Wiki

Vascular disease is a possible complication of diabetes. It is caused by "atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) due to a thickening of the lining of the arteries (the intima). The arteries are blood vessels that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients, to the body from the heart. Atherosclerosis is a condition leading to narrow, hardened arteries so that there is insufficient blood flow to satisfy the needs of the tissue in question."[1] Atherosclerosis (or arteriosclerosis, that is, the hardening of the arteries), which causes vascular disease, is the congestion of the walls of the arteries arising out of the build up of plaque in the walls of the arteries. This build up of plaque narrows the arteries and reduces the smooth blood flow through the arteries. This narrowing does not happen suddenly - it takes several years during which period "cholesterol, fat and the smooth muscle cells lining the blood vessels have been transformed into a thickened, and sometimes calcified, mass" that makes "the arteries become constricted, their elasticity disappears and the volume of blood able to travel through them at any given time is reduced."[2]

Vascular disease mainly affects the arteries of the heart, brain and legs, and accordingly three major types of vascular disease are:

  • The heart - cardiovascular disease
  • The brain - cerebrovascular disease
  • The legs - peripheral vascular disease (also called Peripheral artery occlusive disease)

Risk factors[]

Some of the major risk factors contributing to the development of vascular disease include the following:

  • Smoking
  • Family history of vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke
  • Taking unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Stress of several types
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Presence of high cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Diabetes
  • Being male


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