WHAT IS PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE (P.A.D.)?

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is estimated to affect 8-10 million people in the United States. It is a common circulatory disease where plaque deposits build up over time on the walls of blood vessels, narrowing the vessels, and reducing blood flow. Plaque ranges from soft to calcified. Calcified and fibrotic deposits are the most difficult to treat with traditional interventional procedures and are more common in older patients.

WHO IS MOST AT RISK?

Some conditions and habits raise your chance of developing PAD:

  • Age 50 or over
  • Current or former smoker: Smoking is more closely related to developing PAD than any other risk factor. Smoking increases the risk of developing PAD three to five times
  • Diabetes: One in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to have PAD
  • High blood cholesterol: Excess cholesterol and fat in your blood contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries, reducing or blocking blood flow to your heart, brain, or limbs
  • High blood pressure
  • Personal history of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke: If you have heart disease, you have a one-in-three chance of also having PAD
  • Renal insufficiency

* American Heart Association. Understand Your Risk for PAD, June 2011. Available at:http://www.heart.org. Accessed Nov 2012.

WHAT ARE THE COMMON SYMPTOMS?

  • Leg pain: fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, or cramping in the leg muscles (buttocks, thigh, or calf) that occurs during activities such as walking or climbing stairs. This pain or discomfort goes away once the activity is stopped and during rest. Many people do not report this problem to their health care providers because they think it is a natural part of aging
  • Pain in the legs and/or feet that disturbs sleep
  • Sores or wounds on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other
  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor or The Vascular Clinic’s, Dr. Scott Hannum.

* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, NIH Publication No. 06-5837, Aug 2006.

This information is not intended for diagnosis. If you have questions or concerns, consult your physician.

How can you make your doctor visit as productive as possible?

Before visiting your primary doctor or vascular specialist, you should try to remember the important details of your symptoms.

  • Note when your leg symptoms first began. If your symptoms have changed since then, write down the date this change occurred.
  • Note which leg is most bothersome.
  • Do your symptoms limit your lifestyle?
  • If you were better at the time your symptoms began, what activities would you then try to do that are difficult now?
  • Regaining the ability to do the activities you “lost” can motivate both you and your physician.

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