Peripheral Arterial Disease

Have you ever noticed muscle pain or weakness in your legs or feet after you’ve started walking, but then stops within minutes after resting? You may have PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease).

PAD is a condition in which the arteries in the legs become narrowed or blocked by the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque.  This narrowing or blocking of arteries reduces blood flow from the heart to the extremities which causes poor circulation and often pain.

PAD  has many risks factors including:

  • Family history and genetics
  • Age (you can develop PAD at any age, but most commonly found in those age 65 and older)
  • Lifestyle habits (smoking, stress, diets high in saturated fats, lack of physical activity)
  • Having certain medical conditions can increase your risk for PAD (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease)

Those with PAD may experience the following symptoms:

  • Foot or toe pain that makes it hard to sleep
  • Fatigue, tiredness or pain in your legs, thighs, or buttocks that happens when you walk but then goes away when you rest
  • Foot ulcers that are slow to heal (taking longer than 6 weeks to heal)
  • Pale, discolored or blue leg or foot
  • Lack of growth of your toenails and leg hair
  • One foot feeling colder than the other

Treatment for PAD really depends on the severity of your PAD and what complications may develop or may already have developed.

Your doctor will recommend making heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as, quit smoking, managing stress, aiming for regular physical activity, and encouraging you to get your weight into a healthier range.  Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat and prevent complications related to PAD.

If lifestyle changes and medications do not work well enough to treat your PAD, your doctor may recommend an angioplasty procedure where they insert a small mesh tube called a stent, into the artery which is designed to reduce the artery from narrowing again.    In more severe cases, you may need bypass surgery which is where the doctor will use a healthier blood vessel or an artificial vessel to create a new path around the blocked artery in your leg.

 

PAD is a lifelong condition, but you can manage and minimize complications with lifestyle changes and keeping open communication with your doctor about your feet.

 

If you are experiencing pain in your legs or feet when you perform physical activity, ask to be seen by your doctor right away.  PAD is not a condition you want to put off.  Early care and maintenance are important.  If you would like to speak to a doctor about your feet call (707) 578-1222.