What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
PAD is a vascular condition that occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, preventing blood flow throughout the body. The legs and feet are typically most affected by PAD. The lack of proper blood flow resulting from narrowed arteries reduces the amount of oxygen being delivered throughout the body, which can lead to infection, and in severe cases, amputation. Those with PAD are also at a higher risk for life-threatening conditions such as heart attack and stroke, which result from blockages in the coronary and carotid arteries, respectively.
Know the Risk
Factors & Symptoms
You are at an increased risk for PAD if you meet any of the following criteria:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- 70+ years old
- 50+ years old with a history of diabetes or smoking
PAD is particularly dangerous because people often mistake the symptoms for other conditions, and because the disease often goes undiagnosed by healthcare professionals. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that you are suffering from PAD.
- Pain or cramping in the legs when walking or climbing stairs
(the pain typically subsides after a few minutes of rest)
- Numbness, heaviness, or aching of leg muscles
- Weak or absent pulse in feet
- Pale or bluish-colored skin on legs or feet
- Reduced hair growth on legs
- Poor nail growth on toes
- Sensation of coldness in legs/feet
- Slow-healing cuts or wounds
- Erectile Dysfunction in men
How is PAD diagnosed
Diagnosis: PAD diagnosis begins with a quick, painless exam called an Ankle-brachial index (ABI), which takes only a few minutes and can be performed by your podiatrist during a routine checkup. The ABI compares the blood pressure in the lower legs to the blood pressure in the arms. If the ABI test shows abnormalities, your provider may recommend additional testing.
Treatment: If the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries is determined to be severe, outpatient procedures to remove the plaque can be performed by vascular specialists. More information on treatment options can be found here
In less severe situations, PAD can be managed with the help of lifestyle changes. Here are some of the steps you can take:
- Quit Smoking
- Eat Healthy
- Inspect your legs and feet daily, and schedule regular checkups with your podiatrist
Are you at risk for PAD? Find out now
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