What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
In the U.S. alone, more than 18 million people have symptoms of PAD, or peripheral arterial disease, which is also known as peripheral vascular disease. PAD causes limited circulation throughout the body, restricting the vital blood flow that nourishes the body’s pathways and systems.
PAD commonly affects the body’s limbs, where reduced circulation can lead to amputation of the fingers, arms, toes, feet, and lower legs. It can also be an indication of fatty deposits in the body’s arteries, known as atherosclerosis, which puts the heart and brain at risk.
While peripheral arterial disease is a relatively common condition, many people are unaware that they have it. For this reason, the medical community works to build awareness of Peripheral Arterial Disease and the importance of early detection. September is PAD Awareness Month.
In the early stages of peripheral arterial disease, there may be no detectable symptoms from the patient’s point of view. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, PAD will increase the blockage of normal blood flow and worsen over time.
PAD symptoms include:
- Pain and/or dull aching in the legs
- Cramping in the legs, thighs, or hips
- Difficulty with walking
- Pain while resting your legs or feet
- Non-healing sores on the legs or feet
- A sensation of coldness in the limbs
- Hair loss or discoloration on the legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
If you have persistent leg pain that ceases when activity ends and you are resting, this is called intermittent claudication and can be an indication of PAD. Sometimes, people with PAD experience it as body-wide aching or a throbbing sensation in the limbs, but they fail to seek medical attention because the pain subsides when they are sitting or sleeping.
Because there is variety in the way people experience PAD, it is very important to request a consultation with Maryland Vascular Specialists for an expert examination. Early detection prevents PAD from creating a life-threatening health crisis.