Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, occurs when arteries become blocked by plaque. Plaque is a substance that forms when fatty substances (cholesterol, for example) stick together and build up on the walls of the arteries. When most people think about arteries, they think about the ones in their heart. However, PAD can affect arteries in the legs as well. Even if the arteries in your legs become blocked, you are still at an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your limbs, causing a restriction of blood flow. Although PAD usually affects older adults, it can be a problem for people of many other ages as well. One in every 20 people over the age of 50 has PAD. Besides age, other risk factors include smoking (even if you have quit), diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, a history of vascular disease, or a history of heart attack or stroke. African-Americans are also at higher risk.
Sometimes, the disease can present without symptoms, so people may not know they have it. Other times, the disease can cause serious symptoms that impact the quality of life.
Some ways that PAD can impact quality of life include:
Pain in the Legs
When blood is not getting to the legs at the rate it should, the result can be serious pain. The pain can be a dull throbbing that just causes discomfort, or it can be a severe pain that makes it hard to walk. The pain can even keep you awake at night, which can impact your quality of sleep and your overall health.
The pain can also occur in the feet and can have the same impact.
Slow Wound Healing
Again, when blood is not getting to the legs like it should, the body does not have what it needs to heal sores and other wounds on the legs and feet. Wounds may heal slowly, or they may heal very badly, such as with significant scarring or other side effects. Some wounds may not even heal at all without intervention.
Slow-healing wounds are at a high risk for infection, which can affect other parts of the body if not properly treated.
Fatigue and Heaviness in the Legs
Healthy circulation is essential to healthy movement and energy levels. PAD can cause claudication, which is fatigue or heaviness in the leg muscles. These muscles affect the thighs, calves, and buttocks. People experiencing this symptom may have a hard time walking, climbing stairs, riding a bike, or performing other activities.
Other side effects of PAD can include color changes in the skin on the legs and feet, temperature differences between the legs, and poor nail and hair growth on the lower body.
Fortunately, treatment is available for PAD that can help you get back your quality of life. Coastal Vascular Center offers cutting-edge treatments that can clear the plaque buildup in the arteries and restore healthy blood flow. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and find out if they may be right for you.
Learn more about Dr. Ayar’s expertise and the Coastal Vascular Experience as Rosemary shares her story.
Curious about more information on PAD? Read our Guide To The Essentials About Peripheral Arterial Disease. We also answer frequently asked questions about PAD.
Contact to discuss your symptoms and to learn more about what treatment options are available for you.