The main characteristic of diabetes is high blood sugar levels. Since blood has high sugar levels, damage first starts in the blood vessels. Diabetes affects the large and small blood vessels and the nervous system. This is the root cause for many diabetes complications like diabetic retinopathy, acute renal failure, and many heart diseases.
What is diabetic microangiopathy?
Diabetic microangiopathy is the disease of the small blood vessels called the capillaries. In this condition, due to cell level damage the walls of small blood vessels become weak and cause degeneration. This leads to blood vessel leakage and formation of unstable new blood vessels. This is called neovascularization.
With high blood glucose levels and high blood pressure, there is damage to the arterioles, venules, and capillaries. This damage manifests in diseases of the brain. Known as cerebral microangiopathy or cerebral small blood vessel disease, it leads to:
- Vascular dementia
- Alzheimer’s disease
- White matter lesions
- Cerebral micro bleeds
Small blood vessel damage in microangiopathy can also lead to heart problems when there is damage to the small blood vessels of the coronary arteries. This condition is called coronary microangiopathy.
What is coronary microangiopathy?
Coronary microangiopathy is a major diabetes complication. It is more common in type 2 diabetes and women. This condition leads to damage of the small blood vessels of the heart. Damage occurs in the inner walls of the blood vessels leading in decreased blood flow.
Causes of coronary microangiopathy
- High cholesterol levels (above normal cholesterol levels)
- High blood pressure
- Poor dietary choices
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic inflammation
Symptoms of coronary microangiopathy
- Angina symptoms (chest pain upon exertion)
- Sleep problems
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in the chest
- Discomfort in the left arm
- Discomfort in the back