Tissue or Organ Affected
Fatty material (atherosclerotic plaque Atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis is a condition in which patchy deposits of fatty material (atheromas or atherosclerotic plaques) develop in the walls of medium-sized and large arteries, leading to reduced or... read more ) builds up and blocks large or medium-sized arteries in the heart, brain, legs, and penis.
The walls of small blood vessels are damaged so that the vessels do not transfer oxygen to tissues normally, and the vessels may leak.
Poor circulation causes wounds to heal poorly and can lead to heart attacks Acute Coronary Syndromes (Heart Attack; Myocardial Infarction; Unstable Angina) Acute coronary syndromes result from a sudden blockage in a coronary artery. This blockage causes unstable angina or heart attack (myocardial infarction), depending on the location and amount... read more , strokes Overview of Stroke A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures, resulting in death of an area of brain tissue due to loss of its blood supply (cerebral infarction) and symptoms that... read more , gangrene Gas Gangrene Gas gangrene is a life-threatening infection of muscle tissue caused mainly by the anaerobic bacteria Clostridium perfringens and several other species of clostridia. Gas gangrene can... read more of the feet and hands, erectile dysfunction Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to attain or sustain an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse. (See also Overview of Sexual Dysfunction in Men.) Every man occasionally has... read more , and infections.
The small blood vessels of the retina are damaged, leading to formation of new fragile blood vessels that tend to bleed.
Vision decreases, and ultimately, blindness occurs.
Blood vessels in the kidneys thicken.
Protein leaks into urine.
Blood is not filtered normally.
The kidneys malfunction, and ultimately, chronic kidney disease Chronic Kidney Disease Chronic kidney disease is a slowly progressive (months to years) decline in the kidneys’ ability to filter metabolic waste products from the blood. Major causes are diabetes and high blood pressure... read more occurs.
Nerves are damaged because glucose is not used normally and because the blood supply is inadequate.
Legs suddenly or gradually weaken.
People have reduced sensation, tingling, and pain in their hands and feet.
The nerves that control internal body processes such as blood pressure and digestion are damaged.
Swings in blood pressure occur (especially when the person stands).
Swallowing becomes difficult.
Digestive function is altered, and sometimes nausea or bouts of diarrhea occur.
Blood flow to the skin is reduced, and sensation is decreased, resulting in repeated injury.
Sores and deep infections (diabetic ulcers) develop.
Healing is poor.
White blood cell function is impaired.
People become more susceptible to infections, especially of the urinary tract Overview of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) In healthy people, urine in the bladder is sterile—no bacteria or other infectious organisms are present. The tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body (urethra) contains no bacteria... read more and skin.
Glucose is not used normally, causing tissues to thicken or contract.
Carpal tunnel syndrome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful compression (pinching) of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The cause of most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown... read more and Dupuytren contracture Dupuytren Contracture Dupuytren contracture is a progressive tightening of the bands of fibrous tissue (called fascia) inside the palms, causing a curling in of the fingers that eventually can result in a clawlike... read more develop.