Overview – PAD Awareness
The first step for increased PAD awareness is understanding the disease. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common circulatory disease in which fatty plaque builds up in the arteries causing the reduction of blood flow to your head, organs, and limbs. PAD occurs in the arteries that carry blood to the arms and legs but usually in the legs.
Peripheral Artery Disease Causes
When plaque builds up in the body’s arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis, which is the most common cause of PAD. This happens when over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This can also happen in the blood vessels.
Other causes of PAD include blood clots or injuries, though these are less common. Blood clots and atherosclerosis can not only cause difficulty moving but other circulatory problems as well. Side effects of PAD may also include, a weakened pulmonary vein, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, or even heart failure. When the pulmonary artery or vein is clogged, it may cause lung problems.
If you develop peripheral artery disease, your organs and muscles will not receive the high amount of nutrient-rich blood needed to function. The Surgical Clinic recognizes the need to increase awareness of this disease. Please join us and share this information for PAD Awareness Month.
What are the Risks of Peripheral Artery Disease?
Risk factors for PAD, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Anyone who is over the age of 60 also has a higher risk of PAD. High blood pressure and high cholesterol, in particular, can lead to PAD due to reduced blood flow and clogged veins.
Those who develop PAD are also at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. This risk is due to a weakened heart muscle and circulatory system.
If you suspect you have PAD, consulting with a doctor will help you examine your symptoms and decide on the best form of treatment.
PAD Awareness: Recognizing the Symptoms
Because the circulatory system affects all parts of the body, PAD can cause several problems. Blocked arteries restrict blood flow to the muscles, which can cause muscle cramps, muscle fatigue, and weakness. If left untreated, blockages may continue to increase and result in blocked blood flow. Here are common symptoms of patients who develop PAD:
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot
- Foot sores or toe sores that won’t heal
- Change in the color of the legs
- Difficulty or pain when walking or climbing stairs
Sometimes, the kind of leg pain associated with PAD might be mistaken for shin splints or another condition. If you have any questions about any of your symptoms, get a physical exam and talk to your doctor.
Treatment Options for PAD
If you have been diagnosed with PAD, you have options. These options may include taking medications, making lifestyle changes or having a procedure performed. There are many types of medication that can treat PAD. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugars, or reduce platelet counts.
When treating PAD, the main goals are to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and mobility. Treatment will also help prevent heart attacks, stroke, and amputation. Your doctor will determine which of the PAD treatment options is best for you, based on your medical history and the severity of your condition.
If you do experience any complications from PAD and need help recovering, seek out physical therapy.
At The Surgical Clinic, our focus is on you. If you are experiencing leg pain, numbness or other symptoms, contact us today to speak with one of our Vascular Surgeons or book an appointment online here.