Understanding Microvascular and Macrovascular Complications of Diabetes


Medical research has identified that vascular tree damage has caused the death of several patients. In many cases, the damage of the vascular tree has been triggered by type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The complications of diabetes are broadly classified as microvascular and microvascular damage. Microvascular damages are the ones where larger blood vessels are affected. In microvascular damage, the smaller blood vessels are affected.

Microvascular and Macrovascular Complications of Diabetes

How are Diabetes and Vascular Diseases Connected?

Diabetes is a condition when blood glucose levels are high. Excess glucose in the blood reduces the vasodilator nitric oxide in blood vessels. This reduction of vasodilator will lead the blood vessels to constrict and thus, results in high blood pressure or a stroke. Hence, when one has more sugar levels in the blood, the first organ to get damaged is the tissues in the blood vessel.

Microvascular Complications of Diabetes

Microvascular complications that can occur due to diabetes include

  • Diabetic retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage of blood vessels in the back of the eye leading to progressive loss of vision. This can be diagnosed through a regular eye examination.
  • Diabetic nephropathy: Diabetic nephropathy is the damage of blood vessels in the kidney that can eventually lead to kidney damage and at times, turns fatal for patients. The filters of the kidneys fail to filter protein and hence, a urine test for protein helps to diagnose nephropathy.
  • Diabetic neuropathy: Diabetic neuropathy is defined as the loss of peripheral nerve dysfunction due to decreased blood flow to nerves and damage of small blood vessels.
  • Diabetic foot disease: Ulceration of foot due to hyperglycemia, vascular, and neurological damage is commonly known as diabetic foot disease. If left untreated, it can lead to amputation of the limb.

Macrovascular Complications of Diabetes

Macrovascular damage of diabetes include:

  1. Coronary arterial disease- atherosclerosis: In this condition, the arterial walls narrow down as a result of chronic inflammation and injury in the coronary vasculature.
  2. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): Type 2 diabetes along with high BP and cholesterol narrows down the blood vessel and reduces blood flow to the limbs. With PAD, the extremities like legs do not receive enough blood and when untreated for a long time, it can lead to amputation of legs.
  3. Stroke: When the brain doesn’t receive blood and there is a sudden interruption of blood supply, it can cause a condition known as a stroke. This requires immediate attention as it can be fatal if one doesn’t treat stroke within 4 hours.


The treatment of macrovascular and microvascular damages due to diabetes includes lifestyle modification and maintaining the sugar level under permissible limits. One should continue their diabetic medication without fail so that the sugar levels are within control. Also, reducing weight and following a strict diet help one to delay the onset of such side effects of diabetes.

With modern medical care and innovative diabetes treatment methods, the tissues are supplied with adequate blood glucose and the damage caused to the vasculature is minimized.


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