Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the atherosclerosis of lower extremity arteries and is also associated with atherothrombosis of other vascular beds, including the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The presence of diabetes mellitus greatly increases the risk of PAD, as well as accelerates its course, making these patients more susceptible to ischemic events and impaired functional status compared to patients without diabetes. To minimize these cardiovascular risks it is critical to understand the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis in diabetic patients. This, in turn, can offer insights into the therapeutic avenues available for these patients. This article provides an overview of the epidemiology of PAD in diabetic patients, followed by an analysis of the mechanisms by which altered metabolism in diabetes promotes atherosclerosis and plaque instability. Outcomes of PAD in diabetic patients are also discussed, with a focus on diabetic ulcers and critical limb ischemia.
Keywords: Diabetes; Epidemiology; Outcomes; Pathophysiology; Peripheral artery disease.