Diabetic foot ulcers are preventable. Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Don't smoke. Smoking, which causes the blood vessels to constrict, is the greatest risk factor for PAD. In fact, people who smoke are much more likely than nonsmokers to develop the condition, and they tend to experience symptoms earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts. Even more worrisome, people with diabetes who smoke face the greatest risk of developing PAD complications.

Quitting smoking can help. Studies have shown that quitting smoking slows the progress of PAD. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about prescription and nonprescription stop-smoking aids. According to the American Cancer Society, only about 4 to 7 percent of people are able to stop smoking without medication or counseling or other support.

Keep your blood glucose under control. If you're regularly reaching your blood glucose target, you're ahead of the game. Research has shown that good control of diabetes can reduce the risk of developing peripheral neuropathy as well as slow its progression.

Publication Review By: Rita Rastogi Kalyani, M.D., and Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 24 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015