Peripheral Artery Disease – Catch it Sooner Rather Than Later

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition where blood flow to the limbs is diminished. It’s a common circulatory issue caused by narrowing of the arteries that provide blood to these areas. Cholesterol and fatty deposits can build up over time on the inner walls of the arteries and lead to blockage and reduced blood flow. The arteries in the legs are most commonly affected by PAD. The decreased blood flow causes symptoms such as leg pain and cramps. This is known as claudication. Peripheral artery disease can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition called atherosclerosis.

Causes and Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease
A major cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, a disease that also results from narrowed and blocked arteries. Fatty deposits build up on the arterial walls over time and disrupt blood flow. Atherosclerosis can narrow and block arteries in various areas of the body, including the heart, brain, and limbs. Other less common causes of PAD include blood vessel inflammation, limb injuries, or exposure to radiation.

Risk factors:
• Heredity
• Advanced age
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol

Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease
Almost half of PAD sufferers may have little or no symptoms. The main symptom of PAD is muscle pain when affected areas are in use. This is known as intermittent claudication. Leg pain, specifically in the calf, is the most commonly reported symptom. The reduced blood flow doesn’t produce enough oxygen to meet the demand of muscles in use. Claudication can range from slight discomfort to incapacitating pain. Severe claudication can interfere with the ability to perform simple physical activities like walking. Pain can occur while at rest if the disease progresses. Other symptoms of PAD include skin ulcers, bluish skin, cold skin, poor nail and hair growth in the affected limb, and erectile dysfunction in men. Complications may include stroke, heart attack, and loss of tissue or limb(s) due to injuries or infections.

When to See a Doctor
Call your doctor for an appointment if you have leg pain or any other symptoms of peripheral artery disease. Absent symptoms, screening for PAD is still recommended for people with risk factors like high blood pressure or obesity or those over age 50 with a history of smoking or diabetes. Screening is also encouraged for anyone over age 65. Schedule an appointment with a vascular surgeon at Total Vein Care to screen for PAD. (https://totalveincarelouisiana.com/)

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