September is peripheral artery disease (PAD) awareness month. Over six million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from PAD in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
PAD can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which also puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke. Understanding the symptoms and risk factors for PAD will help you protect yourself from potentially serious and lasting health complications.
At Midwest Regional Health Services, our primary care specialists offer a range of health care services including preventive care and chronic disease management at our office in Omaha, Nebraska.
What is peripheral artery disease (PAD)?
PAD causes the arteries in the arms and legs to narrow, reducing blood flow. PAD is often caused by atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty plaque deposits accumulate in the arteries, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow.
Blood clots sometimes form around the arterial plaque, making it even more difficult for blood and oxygen to flow effectively.
Over time, decreased blood and oxygen flow can lead to permanent damage, and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
PAD is also a common problem for people with diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to nerve damage in the feet and legs, can make it difficult to feel the symptoms of PAD and make wound healing more difficult.
Signs and symptoms of PAD
PAD can affect the arteries in the arms/hands and legs/feet, but it’s most common in the lower extremities.
PAD progresses over time, and you may not experience symptoms right away. The main symptom of PAD is claudication, which causes leg pain during movement and exercise. As PAD progresses, you may also experience pain while at rest (ischemic rest pain).
Other signs and symptoms of PAD include:
- Cold sensation in the calf or foot
- Weak pulse in the leg or foot
- Cramping in the hips/thighs during movement
- Shiny skin on your legs/changes in skin color
- Sores and wounds that are slow to heal or don’t heal
- Slow toenail growth
- Pain and cramping in the arms/hands
If you have any symptoms or questions about PAD, contact us to schedule an appointment.
Are you at risk for PAD?
PAD is common and affects millions of Americans every year. Common risk factors for PAD include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
If you’re concerned about your risk for PAD, or if you have additional health issues like diabetes or atherosclerosis, contact us to discuss what you can do to manage your risk.
How is PAD treated?
Depending on your symptoms, severity, and overall health, PAD is commonly treated using medication and/or lifestyle modifications to improve symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to place a stent to open or bypass the blocked artery.
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options for PAD, contact Midwest Regional Health Services today to schedule an appointment with a primary care specialist.