What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?
September is Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common condition that often goes undiagnosed and untreated. PAD is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the stomach, arms, head, and most commonly in the legs. This disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up in the artery walls. If the plaque formation becomes brittle or inflamed, it may cause a blood clot to form causing the artery to further narrow or become blocked.
What Can You Do To Prevent PAD?
There are uncontrollable risks associated with PAD such as aging and family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke. However, you can make a difference in your risks by addressing the risk factors you can control:
- stop smoking
- have a healthy weight
- control diabetes
- be more physically active
- keep blood pressure below 140/90
- lower your cholesterol>
Symptoms of PAD
People with PAD often mistake the symptoms for something else or never experience these symptoms at all. However, if left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation.
Here are some key symptoms:
- Pain, cramping, and tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or exercising
- Foot or toe wounds that won’t heal
- Decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot compared to the other leg or rest of your body.
Physicians Who Treat PAD
Treatment and Prevention of PAD
The disease can be easily diagnosed by your doctor through the ankle brachial index test or through doppler and duplex ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance angiogram, CT angiogram, or a regular angiogram. PAD can be managed by lifestyle changes and with medication.