Peripheral Artery Disease
Without care, PAD can threaten life and limb.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which arteries supplying blood to the body’s extremities – arms, kidneys, stomach and, most commonly, the legs – become narrowed or clogged. Blocked blood flow can cause pain when walking or exercising and, if severe enough, can lead to tissue death and even amputation of the foot or leg. An estimated 8.5 million people in the United States have peripheral artery disease, affecting up to 20 percent of people over 60.
PAD can have serious consequences; however, physical activity can substantially improve your symptoms.
The main risk factor contributing to PAD is smoking. Other factors can include older age, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. It is more common in African Americans than other racial groups and is slightly more likely among men than women. While PAD in itself isn’t life-threatening, it does affect quality of life and can be a symptom of more serious conditions. PAD can cause stroke, heart attack, open sores that won’t heal, or an infection of your feet or legs. With proper management and healthy behaviors, you can improve your chances of preventing – and recovering – from PAD.
Symptoms may include:
• Painful cramping or tiredness in your hip, thigh or calf muscles while walking or climbing stairs
• Numbness or weakness in your legs
• Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
• No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
• A change in the color of your legs
• Hair loss or slower hair growth on feet and legs
• Slower growth of toenails
• Shiny skin on legs
• Erectile dysfunction