Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease is commonly known as PAD. People have P.A.D. when the arteries in their legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits. This buildup causes the arteries to harden and narrow, which is called atherosclerosis. When leg arteries get hardened, or clogged, blood flow to the legs and feet is reduced. This results in poor circulation.
P.A.D. occurs most often in the arteries in the legs, but also can affect other arteries that carry blood outside of the heart. When arteries that supply the heart are narrowed or hardened, it si called coronary artery disease.
The good news is that like other diseases related to the arteries, P.A.D. can often be treated by making lifestyle changes, by taking medicines, or by undergoing leg artery angioplasty or vascular sugery, if needed.
Is P.A.D. Serious?
It is a serious disease commonly affecting Americans over the age of 50. The hardened arteries are a sign that they are likely to have hardened and narrowed arteries to the brain and heart as well. That is why people with P.A.D. have a two to six times greater chance of death from a herat attack or stroke.
When the blood flow to he legs is greatly or severely reduced, people with P.A.D. may have pain when walking. This may cause other problems that can lead to amputation of a toe, or a foot, or a leg.
Who is at risk?
- Smokers, or used to smoke
- High cholesterol patients
- Are of African American ethnicity
- Have had hear attack, heart disease or stroke.
- Family history of P.A.D., heart attack or stroke.
Warning Signs/Symptoms of P.A.D.
Although it develops slowsly over many years, in th early stages,patients may have no symptoms. By the time many patients feel symptoms, the arteries may be so clogged or hardened that they are not getting enough oxygen to supply oxygen to the leg muscles.
- Cramps, tiredness or pain in your legs, thighs or buttocks that always happens when you walk but goes away when you rest. This is called claudication.
- Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs your sleep.
- Skin wounds or ulcers that are slow to heal, or do not heal.
Sometimes people ignore leg pain and think it is just a sign of getting older. As a result, many people with P.A.D. donot know they have it and do not get treatment. It is important to discuss any leg/thigh/foot pain with your doctor since it may be a serious sign of a disease such as P.A.D.
If you think you have peripheral arterial disease, see us soon to talk about any symptoms you may be having. We will examine your pulses in your feet and legs. We can perform an ABI (Ankle Brachial Index) in office. It uses sound waves to find out if there is reduced blood flow in the arteries. It also compares the blood pressure in your ankles with the blood pressure in your arms,. P.A.D. can also be diagnosed by other tests that measure blood pressures in the legs (segmental pressures), toe pressure or T.B.I. For your convenience, we can perform all the tests in the comfort of our office.