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How Diabetes Affects the Body (Especially Your Feet)

Many patients with uncontrolled diabetes may develop peripheral artery disease, or PAD.

Peripheral artery disease is a disease that causes the blood vessels to narrow, thus diminishing the flow of blood to the lower extremities. Specifically, the blood vessels which carry blood throughout the body develop a buildup of hard plaque which diminishes blood flow. These plaques harden and diminish the circumference of the vessels resulting in decreased circulation.

This diminished flow does not provide the affected extremities ample nutrients, cellular waste management, cellular repair and may lead to arterial disease. This can increase an individual’s chance of getting an infection, decrease the body’s ability to fight the infection, and decrease the body’s ability to heal wounds.

Severely diminished blood flow can cause gangrene, also known as tissue death. Once a lower extremity develops gangrene, the only treatment is amputation. Gangrene that is infected with bacteria can spread to other organs or body parts and can become fatal if left untreated.

Dr. Marvin Marcelin, DPM
Partner, Save Your Soles Podiatry, LLP

Which group in the Philadelphia area receive the most amputations?

A. Black men ages 40 – 60
B. White men over age 60
C. Black women ages 40 – 60


Black Men ages 40 – 60

Black men are nearly 3x as likely to experience a lower extremity amputation than any other group.

Know your risk

Poor circulation can lead to lower extremity amputations. Take this quick test to understand your risk.

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Why Do Diabetics Sometimes Get Amputations?

What Diabetes Does to the Body Many patients with uncontrolled diabetes develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), which basically means that blood does not effectively flow