Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Artery Disease (also known as Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD) is a condition where the arteries in your legs or lower extremities narrow due to the accumulation of fatty plaques. It is a circulatory problem where your limbs do not receive proper blood flow, especially the legs.

The plaque buildup in the leg arteries is known as atherosclerosis. It is difficult for the blood vessels to transport oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the limbs. The PAD develops differently for each person, and it also depends on their health condition. The disease is mainly sited in people above the age of 50 with a history of smoking and diabetes.

What causes Peripheral Artery Disease?

The primary cause of peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis, that is, the fatty deposits in the blood vessels of the lower extremities. It narrows the artery walls, thereby reducing the blood flow.

Other risk factors that can develop PAD are:

  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking

  • Diabetes

  • High cholesterol

  • Blood clotting disorder

  • Age above 50

  • Family medical history of heart or blood vessel diseases

Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease

Many people who have Peripheral Artery Disease may not experience any symptoms or have mild symptoms, yet pain in the legs is the most common. People may feel leg pain or muscle cramp while walking and may go away after a few minutes. This sign is called claudication, which can be triggered by walking.

Other symptoms associated with PAD include:

  • Leg numbness

  • Weak or sore legs

  • Pain through hips, thighs, or calves muscles

  • Shiny skin on legs

  • Hair loss

  • Weak pulse in feet

  • Cool skin or skin color changes

Do not excuse these symptoms as a sign of aging. Consult with your physician if you have continuous leg pain or numbness, and take appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease

Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease Some of the tests that will help the physician diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease and determine its severity are:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI)

  • Physical exam

  • Ultrasound

  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)

  • Blood tests

It is vital to have the symptoms diagnosed, or else it may lead to severe health problems like stroke, heart attack, renal artery disease, or amputation. On the other hand, you can prevent PAD by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical activity, no smoking, and controlling your diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Treatment for Peripheral Artery Disease

There are diverse methods by which you can treat peripheral artery disease. The treatment goals would be to ease the symptoms so that you can resume physical activities and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by stopping the development of atherosclerosis.

Changing your lifestyle during the early stages of PAD will reduce complications of heart disease. Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and regularly exercising can improve your state dramatically.

With severe symptoms, your physician may recommend medications to prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and control pain. The supervised exercise program will also help reduce the pain and help you walk better.

If the patient experiences advanced PAD symptoms, severe pain, and restricted mobility, the physician may suggest surgery. It can be angioplasty, bypass surgery, atherectomy, or thrombolytic therapy.

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