Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common disease that affects the arteries in your legs. Your peripheral arteries carry oxygenated blood from your heart to other parts of your body. PAD is caused when extra fats and cholesterol circulating in your blood collects in your arterial walls, reducing or blocking blood flow to your limbs. Blockages in your peripheral arteries are serious problems because your limbs do not receive adequate blood flow. Unfortunately, these blockages can be quite serious, causing a wide variety of health conditions such as stroke, heart attack, or even amputation.
Knowing your risk factors and warning signs are important to avoid developing complications from PAD.
Are you at risk?
There are certain risks people are unable to control that put them at a higher risk of developing PAD. The most common risk factors include:
- Age – Anyone over the age of 50
- Gender – Men are at a higher risk than women
- Family or personal history of PAD
- Family or personal history of cardiovascular disease
However, there are also some lifestyle factors that can increase your risk for developing PAD. These risk factors are important pay attention to, especially if you have any of the above-listed risks.
- Smoking – People with a history of smoking are four times more likely to develop PAD than non-smokers.
- Diabetes – One in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to have PAD.
- High blood pressure – Hypertension (high blood pressure) significantly increases the risk of your arteries accumulating plaque, leading to PAD.
- High levels of cholesterol – High cholesterol impacts the amount of excess cholesterol and fat in your blood, causing plaque build-up.
- Obesity – People who are overweight have an increased risk of developing PAD.
If you have any of these risk factors, it’s vital that you schedule an appointment to talk to a vascular specialist about your arterial health and what you can do to prevent developing PAD.
What are the signs and symptoms of PAD?
Many people with PAD mistake the signs and symptoms with normal signs of aging. This is dangerous as it can prolong your time before receiving treatment. Early diagnosis is essential to maintaining your arterial health and minimizing complications associated with PAD. If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, you may be at risk of having PAD:
- A feeling of heaviness, fatigue, or cramping in your leg muscles during activity that goes away during rest.
- Pain in your legs or feet that wakes you up during the night.
- Wounds on your feet or legs that are slow to heal or do not heal at all.
- The skin on your feet changing colors, including becoming more pale or blue.
- Experiencing a different temperature in one of your legs or feet compared with the other leg or foot.
- Decreased or poor nail and hair growth on your feet and legs.
While this list of symptoms is often related to PAD, people can experience other symptoms or no symptoms at all. Understanding your risk factors and paying attention to any changes in your health will help you and your doctor diagnose PAD.
Is PAD dangerous?
PAD is a serious disease that can cause other major health problems if left untreated. People with PAD can experience painful symptoms in their legs due to the decreased blood flow. Over time the decreased blood flow will lead to infections and gangrene. The development of gangrene usually leads to amputation of the limb. Additionally, people who suffer from PAD have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart attack.
How is PAD treated at USA Vascular Centers?
At USA Vascular Centers, we take vascular health seriously and make our patients health our top priority. Our vascular specialists are experienced in performing stent angioplasty to relieve signs and symptoms of PAD. The stent angioplasty procedure restores blood flow to blocked arteries through non-surgical methods. This minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter to insert a small, mesh stent into the affected artery. The stent is then expanded by a tiny balloon to compress the formation of plaque so your blood can flow through your artery. This procedure, combined with lifestyle changes, will improve the blood circulation in your leg, ability to walk, and reduce your pain.
If you are ready to find relief from your PAD symptoms, contact us at USA Vascular Centers so our team can get you on the road to recovery.