What are macrovascular complications of type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM)?

Updated: Nov 30, 2020
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Answer

People with diabetes experience accelerated atherosclerosis, affecting the small arteries of the heart, brain, lower extremity, and kidney. Coronary atherosclerosis often occurs at a younger age and is more severe and extensive than in those without diabetes, increasing the risk of ischemic heart disease. Atherosclerosis of the internal carotid and vertebrobasilar arteries and their branches predisposes to cerebral ischemia.

Severe atherosclerosis of the iliofemoral and smaller arteries of the lower legs predisposes to gangrene. Ischemia of a single toe or ischemic areas on the heel are characteristic of diabetic peripheral vascular disease; these result from the involvement of much smaller and more peripheral arteries.

Atherosclerosis of the main renal arteries and their intrarenal branches causes chronic nephron ischemia, which is a significant component of multiple renal lesions in diabetes. However, not all people with type 1 DM are at risk for nephropathy, because there are some polymorphisms in the various factors involved in its pathogenesis, which can modulate the course of this disease from one person to the other.


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