In September, we are focused on raising awareness of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This is a condition also known as Arterial Disease or simply PAD. It affects 8 to 10 million Americans, there’s more to be concerned about than just painful or tired legs, because it is a very serious condition that can result in limb loss if left untreated. To honor National Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month, we have put together the following 7 facts about PAD.
1. If you have PAD, you most likely have blockages in other areas
Peripheral arterial disease is the result of a far more serious problem: atherosclerosis, a disease in which your arteries become clogged which restricts blood flow. People with PAD are also four to five times more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack.
Early detection of PAD can help you prevent a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.
2. The symptoms of Arterial Disease are broad
Many people with Arterial Disease don’t have symptoms at all, and others may mistake these symptoms for normal aging-related aches and pains, or other conditions such as arthritis, anemia, spinal stenosis, and nerve damage.
The most common PAD related symptom is claudication, cramp like leg pain while walking, climbing stairs, or exercising that generally goes away with rest.
Many who have PAD, experience problems with walking: They find they simply can’t walk as fast or as far as they used to.
People with the most extreme examples of arterial disease suffer from critical limb ischemia, experience extreme pain, as well as non-healing sores in the legs and feet.
3. Smokers are at high risk for Arterial Disease
The risk of Arterial Disease increases by four times in those who smoke or have a history of smoking. So stay clear of cigarettes!
For example, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that the more cigarettes a woman smokes daily, the more likely she is to develop PAD. Women who quit smoking are less likely to develop Arterial Disease.
4. People over the age of 50 are at higher risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease
As people age, they must pay special attention to the aches and pains in their legs. Many older people do not report leg pain to their doctor because they feel it is a natural part of aging or due to some other cause. However, this problem should be reported to the doctor because pain is not normal at any age; therefore, when you experience pain in your legs, you should talk to your doctor about it.
5. People with diabetes are more likely to develop PAD
Having diabetes increases the likelihood of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD can lead to amputation and death. The American Diabetes Association advises that in people with diabetes, the risk of PAD is increased by age, duration of diabetes, and presence of peripheral neuropathy. Additionally, ethnic / racial demographics show that African Americans and Hispanics with diabetes have a higher prevalence of PAD than non-Hispanic Caucasians (even after adjustment for other known risk factors and the excess prevalence of diabetes).
6.Peripheral Arterial Disease is 1 of the top 5 most under-diagnosed diseases
The symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease are similar to other illnesses, so your primary care physician may not have considered PAD initially. Because of the high prevalence of asymptomatic disease, and the fact that only a small percentage of PAD patients present with classic claudication, PAD is frequently underdiagnosed and thus undertreated.
If you suspect that you have peripheral artery disease, then contact Coastal Vascular Center. We will offer to arrange a consultation with Dr. Ayar. He will conduct a full evaluation and review the test results with you. If you are diagnosed with having PAD based on those results, then we will discuss treatment options and next steps
7. Prevention is the best medicine
While you can’t do anything about some of the risk factors for Arterial Disease (such as age, race, and family history) you can make lifestyle choices that will significantly lower your risk.
The same advice doctors give for reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke will also help keep Arterial Disease away:
- Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in whole grains and fresh produce.
- Don’t smoke. And if you currently smoke, quit immediately.
- Keep your vitals — blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose numbers at healthy levels.
- Be active, including at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight (a BMI above 24.9) or obese (a BMI of 30 or higher), talk to your doctor about steps you can take to lose weight.
DON’T IGNORE THE SYMPTOMS OF PAD – SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION
If you feel leg pain, cramping, or fatigue in your leg that is brought on by walking but relieved when you rest; experience leg pain while resting; or have wounds on your foot that are slow to heal, do not ignore them. They are common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Be sure to contact a vascular specialist (or your primary care physician for a referral) as soon as possible. Click here to schedule an expert consultation at Coastal Vascular Center.