If you have unexplainable leg pain, especially after walking or exercising, it could be due to peripheral artery disease, or PAD. This condition is often under-diagnosed and untreated, which is a serious problem due to the danger that it can pose to your health and wellbeing.
What is PAD?
Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of the peripheral arteries, which are responsible for bringing blood away from the heart and to other areas of the body. While it most commonly affects the legs and feet, it can also be found in other parts of the body, including upper extremities.
PAD occurs when arteries begin to narrow or become blocked when plaque, which consists of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue, builds on the walls of the artery. This can cause pain in legs while walking and exercising.
In severe cases, a blood clot can form and completely stop blood flow, which can result in a stroke or heart attack.
Risks & Symptoms of PAD
Many people who have PAD may not have symptoms, or they may mistake their symptoms for another condition. Most commonly observed symptoms of PAD include:
- Leg pain during exercise, and also at rest
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Wounds of the legs, foot, or toes that do not heal easily
- Decreased temperature of the leg or foot
- Slow nail growth on toes or hair growth on the leg
- Some men experience erectile dysfunction
Patients are more at risk for peripheral artery disease when they:
- Smoke cigarettes
- Have type 2 diabetes
- Are obese
- Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Are over 50 years of age
- Have a family history of heart issues or strokes
PAD Treatment Options
There are lifestyle changes individuals with PAD can take to reduce the progression and relieve symptoms. These include: quitting smoking, regular physical activity, consuming a diet low in saturated and trans fat, and taking steps to manage your diabetes.
You may have a medication prescribed to you to help reduce your risk for PAD or worsening the condition.
When lifestyle changes or medications are not suitable, minimally invasive procedures are typically the next option. Advanced Vascular Associates provides revascularization procedures as an effective PAD treatment option. Balloon angioplasty and stent placement opens the narrowed/blocked artery and a stent is placed to keep the artery open.
Advanced Vascular Associates work with each patient to provide a thorough diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.