Peripheral Artery Disease What is it and how to prevent it

What is Peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.)

According to Wikipedia Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is an abnormal narrowing of arteries other than those that supply the heart or brain.

The narrowing is caused by plaque building up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs.

Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue, and other substances in the blood.

When the build-up plaque in the body’s arteries, this condition is called atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries.

This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

P.A.D.which usually affects the arteries in the legs, but can also affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach

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Symptoms of blocked blood flow

Blocked blood flow to your legs not only causes pain and numbness. It also can raise your risk of getting an infection in the affected limbs.

If severe enough can cause gangrene (tissue death). In very serious cases, this can lead to leg amputation.

If you are affected by leg pain when you walk or climb stairs, talk with your doctor.

Sometimes as we age we sometimes think that leg pain is just a symptom of aging. However, there could be other causes, the pain could be P.A.D.

It best to tell your doctor if you’re feeling pain in your legs and discuss whether you should be tested for P.A.D.

P.A.D. increases your risk of ischemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack (“mini-stroke”). P.A.D. is serious disease but it’s treatable. If you have the disease, see your doctor regularly and treat underlying atherosclerosis.

P.A.D. treatment may slow or stop disease progress and reduce the risk of complications.

Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery or procedures. Researchers continue to explore new therapies for P.A.D.

Smoking is the main risk factor for P.A.D. If you smoke or have a history of smoking, your risk of P.A.D. increases. Other factors, such as age and having certain diseases or conditions, also increase your risk of P.A.D.

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Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease

. The disease is more common in people of African descent than any other racial or ethnic group.

The major risk factors for P.A.D. are smoking, older age, and having certain diseases or conditions.

Smoking

Smoking is the main risk factor for P.A.D. and if you smoke or have a history of smoking your risk increases.

People who smoke and people who have diabetes are at the highest risk for P.A.D. complications, such as gangrene (tissue death) in the leg from decreased blood flow. Quitting smoking slows the progress of P.A.D.

Older Age

Plaque builds up in your arteries as you age. Old age combined with other risk factors, such as smoking or diabetes, also puts you at higher risk for P.A.D.

Diseases and Conditions

Many diseases and conditions can raise your risk of P.A.D., including:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome

Screening and Prevention of Peripheral Artery Disease

There are steps you can take to control your risk factors and taking control will help prevent or delay peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.) and its complications. As stated by the NIH

Controlling risk factors includes the following.

  • Be physically active.
  • Be screened for P.A.D. A simple office test, called an ankle-brachial index or ABI, can help determine whether you have P.A.D.
  • Follow heart-healthy eating.
  • If you smoke, quit. Talk to your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan.
  • Know your family history of health problems related to P.A.D. If you or someone in your family has the disease, be sure to tell your doctor.

The lifestyle changes described above can reduce your risk of developing P.A.D. These changes also can help prevent and control conditions that can be associated with P.A.D., such as ischemic heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and stroke.

People who have P.A.D. may have symptoms when walking or climbing stairs, which may include pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles. Symptoms also may include cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Symptoms may ease after resting. These symptoms are called intermittent claudication.

During physical activity, your muscles need increased blood flow. If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, your muscles won’t get enough blood, which will lead to symptoms. When resting, the muscles need less blood flow, so the symptom

Other Signs and Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms of P.A.D. include:

  • Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
  • Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
  • A pale or bluish color to the skin
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
  • Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs
  • Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes

Living With Peripheral Artery Disease

If you have peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.), you’re more likely to also have ischemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack (“mini-stroke”). However, you can take steps to treat and control P.A.D. and lower your risk for these other conditions.

Living With Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms

If you have P.A.D., you may feel pain in your calf or thigh muscles after walking. Try to take a break and allow the pain to ease before walking again. Over time, this may increase the distance that you can walk without pain.

Your doctor may recommend a supervised exercise program This type of program has been shown to reduce P.A.D. symptoms.

Check your feet and toes regularly for sores or possible infections. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well. Maintain good foot hygiene and have professional medical treatment for corns, bunions, or calluses.

Ongoing Health Care Needs and Lifestyle Changes

See your doctor for checkups as he or she advises. If you have P.A.D. without symptoms, you still should see your doctor regularly. Take all medicines as your doctor prescribes.

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay P.A.D. and other related problems, such as ischemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include physical activity, quitting smoking, and heart-healthy eating.

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