One in 20 people living in the U.S. over the age of 50 have peripheral artery disease (PAD); that’s over 12 million individuals! PAD occurs when extra fats and cholesterol circulating in the blood collect in the walls of the arteries causing large amounts of plaque to accumulate; consequently, creating a blockage of blood flow from the arteries to the heart. This is similar to coronary artery disease; however in regards to PAD, the lower extremities are most affected. PAD is most commonly seen in the legs, and nearly everyone affected by PAD suffers from an inability to walk as well as they could before. Not only can PAD trigger a blood clot, but it can also cause heart attacks, strokes, and even amputation if left untreated. Due to the fact that people living with PAD may not always exhibit physical symptoms, many people who have this condition do not seek treatment. There are many ways that you can prevent PAD, but depending on the severity of blockage, treatment is one of the most successful options.
Diabetes and PAD
People living with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing severe plaque buildup, because they are already prone to high cholesterol and heart disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in 3 people suffering from Type 2 diabetes over the age of 50 will develop PAD sometime during their lifetime. When your legs do not get the correct amount of blood and oxygen, this can sometimes lead to serious complications like loss of healthy tissue and amputation. Often, managing diabetes is already difficult enough, so PAD symptoms fall between the cracks. At first, symptoms may start out as an annoying pain in your calf that won’t go away. As time passes, the uncomfortable pain can quickly develop into a serious health risk.
• Diabetes, specifically Type 2
• Family history of heart conditions or arterial plaque buildup
• Smoking or having been a smoker
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol levels
• Plaque buildup
• African American men over 50, twice as likely to develop PAD
How Can I Prevent PAD?
Our three main goals in regards to prevention and treatment of PAD are:
• Manage your uncomfortable symptoms through diet and exercise
• Use minimally invasive procedures such as, stent balloon angioplasty to push plaque buildup down, restoring healthy blood flow and circulation
• Stop the progression of plaque buildup throughout your lower extremities to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and amputation
Diagnosed with PAD? Your Next Steps
If you’ve been experiencing leg, calf, buttocks, or thigh pain and are concerned, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a vascular specialist or cardiologist, so you can get tested for PAD. If you’re over the age of 50, it may be a good time to schedule an appointment even if you are not experiencing symptoms. A specialist can help you minimize your future health risks and create a health plan, especially if you are diabetic. If PAD is diagnosed early, you can avoid serious complications, and get on track to leading a healthier, more active life. Even though African American men over 50, people with high blood pressure or cholesterol, and people with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing PAD, both men and women from various races, age groups, and health backgrounds can develop this condition. Call our vascular centers to schedule an initial consultation and learn about insurance coverage! (855) 514-6149
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