Peripheral artery disease is a circulatory condition that is chronic and potentially life-threatening. It is caused by the arteries becoming narrow or blocked due because of a buildup of plaque. Plaque in the arteries is made of fatty materials and cholesterol. It causes a reduction of blood flow that is carried away from the heart towards the rest of the body, except for the brain. It is especially prevalent in the legs and feet.
The signs of Peripheral Artery Disease vary based on age, weight, and lifestyle choices. There is about a 50% chance that patients with PAD will experience noticeable symptoms. These symptoms are almost always caused by a reduction in blood flow to your leg muscles. This can vary based on which artery is affected and to what extent your blood flow is restricted.
What Are The Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease?
The most common symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease is pain in one or both calves, thighs, or hips. Intermittent pain usually occurs while walking or climbing stairs. This is because the need for oxygen-rich blood increases during these activities and other exercises. The name of this pain is claudication.
Leg cramps are fairly common, but cramps that start with exercise and subside when you rest are most likely due to claudication. When there is a blockage in the blood vessels in your legs you may even experience pain at night or in your sleep. It usually is a dull, cramping pain. It may also feel like a heaviness, tightness, or tiredness in the muscles of the legs.
Other PAD Symptoms
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs
- Burning or aching pain in your feet or toes
- Dull pain in your buttocks
- One or both legs or feet feel cold
- One or both legs or feet have different color
- Impotence or the inability to maintain an erection
- Lingering sores on the feet or legs or loss of hair
Because the signs of PAD can be easily excused as tiredness or fatigue, or masked by conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, it is important that you’re mindful of common risk factors. Some of the risk factors include a history of smoking, diabetes, obesity, and age.
There is a link between smoking and peripheral artery disease that has been confirmed by a number of studies. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including the risk of peripheral artery disease.
If you are experiencing one or more of these PAD symptoms, and you have some of the risk factors, you should check with a doctor to figure out what is causing your symptoms.
If you are interested in learning more about Peripheral Artery Disease, you should read our frequently asked questions page.
You Have PAD Symptoms – Now What?
If you have any of the symptoms of PAD you should first speak to your doctor. If you are diabetic you should speak to your endocrinologist. If you have chronic wounds on your feet or legs you should speak to your podiatrist or wound care specialist, respectively. It would be beneficial to receive a comprehensive evaluation to determine the severity of your condition and to determine a treatment plan. At Modern Vascular, there are highly skilled physicians and staff that are trained to detect and treat Peripheral Artery Disease.
The condition may improve with adjustments to one’s lifestyle. Some of the risk factors can be addressed through these changes, allowing for the possibility of improvement. For instance, smoking is a risk factor. If a PAD patient quits smoking, they may see an improvement in their condition. Other lifestyle changes include sticking to a healthy diet and developing an exercise routine. Doctors may also prescribe medications that should be taken as prescribed.
For some patients, changes to their lifestyle aren’t enough to manage the disease. If that’s the case, there are minimally invasive endovascular procedures that can help restore blood flow to the affected extremities. People that have PAD that think that would benefit from one of these procedures can reach out to Modern Vascular to schedule an evaluation to determine if that is a viable option.
Watch the following video to learn more about the risk factors: