Peripheral Arterial Disease
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Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease, also known as PAD, is a common yet serious condition, affecting 1 out of every 20 Americans over the age of 50.
PAD is the narrowing of the peripheral arteries, commonly affecting the arteries in the pelvis and legs.
Arteries are hollow tubes through which the blood travels away from the heart, supplying other organs with essential nutrients and oxygen. Over time, the blood leaves behind deposits known as plaque which sticks to the inside of the arteries. In some cases, this plaque builds up and the arteries eventually began to narrow and cause diseases -such as PAD.
Signs and Symptoms
Unfortunately, PAD symptoms can be very painful. Some patients experience discomfort, but many experience pain that doesn’t go away in their legs and feet. Others experience even more serious conditions like impotence and extreme pain.
The most common symptoms are tired or achy legs. The signs can grow slowly causing many people ignore the warning signs, dismissing aches and pains as part of the aging process.
Typically, this pain develops in the legs, hips, thighs, or calves when walking or exercising heavily. The pain is usually intermittent and is caused from one or more of the leg’s arteries narrowing, constricting blood flow to the legs. When you are walking, your legs require more blood and oxygen, and since the restricted arteries can’t supply the demand –the pain comes on more rapidly.
If left without treatment, further symptoms may include:
Pain and cramps at night
Burning sensation in leg and feet muscles
Numbness in the legs while sitting
Pain when walking
Dark, bruise-like, colors on your legs and feet
Painful and persistent sores on your legs and feet
Leg pain that continues after exercising
Foot wounds that don’t heal
What are your risk factors
While many cases of PAD are hereditary, or caused by circumstances beyond our control, such as age, gender, and ethnicity; there are still important steps that can be taken to lower the risk of PAD.
Your chances of PAD also increase if you are:
Over the age of 50
Having poor diet
Having high blood pressure
People who smoke, and/or have diabetes are especially at risk for PAD. If you have risk factors for PAD, contact your healthcare professional to get screened for PAD, even if you have not noticed any symptoms.
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