Are You At Risk for Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Artery DiseaseHeart disease and stroke get a lot of attention, but how much do you know about peripheral artery disease (PAD)? This common condition increases your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, infection, and amputation.

What Is PAD?

PAD affects arteries that carry blood from your heart to your legs, arms, kidneys, stomach, and head. It occurs when plaque builds up inside your arteries. Over time, this plaque can harden, causing arteries to become narrow and reducing blood flow to other parts of your body, especially your legs.

What Are the Signs of PAD?

In most cases, PAD causes symptoms in your legs, buttocks, hips, or feet—especially when walking or climbing stairs. You may feel numbness, aching, cramping, or heaviness, with improvement in symptoms after resting. Other signs of PAD include:

  • Pale or bluish colored skin
  • Temperature in one leg feels cooler than the other
  • Weak pulses in your legs or feet
  • Sores or wounds that aren’t healing

What Causes PAD?

PAD can occur when your arteries become damaged. Factors that may damage your arteries are:

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or diabetes

How Is PAD Treated?

If you’re diagnosed with PAD, your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments that include lifestyle changes, medication, and surgical procedures if needed. Effective lifestyle changes include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Being physically active

Follow up with your primary care provider if you feel like you may be at risk for PAD or want to learn more about your personal risk factors.

If you are noticing signs or symptoms of PAD, talk with your primary care provider. If you have been diagnosed with PAD, a heart and vascular specialist can help you manage your condition.