Peripheral Arterial Disease: The Hidden Source of Leg Pain and Poor Blood Flow
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a circulatory disease that causes narrowed arteries to reduce blood flow to your limbs (usually your legs or arm0).
Peripheral artery disease is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries (called Atherosclerosis). This condition may be reducing blood flow to your legs as well as to the heart and brain, leading in more complicated cases to myocardial infarction (heart attack) or strokes. The most common cause is a build-up of plaque caused by cholesterol in the arteries.
When you develop PAD your extremities don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes many symptoms, most notably leg pain or calf cramping WHEN WALKING or climbing stairs (claudication). Because people with PAD have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, the American Heart Association (AHA) encourages people at risk to discuss their symptoms with their doctor to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.
It’s estimated that about 14.5 million Americans suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease, up to 20 % of Americans over 60. Around half of all people with PAD do not even know they have this condition. Are you among them?
You may need to be screened for PAD if you are:
- Over 60
- Over 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking
- Under 50, but have diabetes, diabetic foot and other peripheral arterial disease risk factors, such as obesity, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
- Pain or cramps in your thighs, hips or calf muscles, after walking or climbing stairs
- Numbness or weakness in legs
- Signs of poor circulation in legs: Coldness in your lower leg or foot
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
- Sores/wounds that won’t heal
- A change in color of one of the legs
- Slower growth of your toenails
- Shiny, pale skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
- Advanced Age (60+)
- High Cholesterol
- History of Smoking
- High Blood Pressure
- Excess Weight
- Family History of PAD