What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Eight to twelve million people in the United States over the age of 50 suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Without proper treatment, almost 30% of them are likely to suffer from a stroke, heart attack, amputation or even death caused by PAD.

Peripheral Arterial Disease is one of the more common circulatory problems that causes your arteries to narrow. This reduces or completely blocks the blood flow to your legs and feet. A fatty plaque buildup is usually the cause of PAD. Atherosclerosis is simply the narrowing and hardening of arteries from this plaque buildup, which is normally noted in heart health. This disease doesn’t just cause PAD, it also commonly causes heart attacks and strokes. Peripheral Arterial disease can also be caused by the blood vessels becoming inflamed, injuries to the leg or radiation exposure.

Is pain when walking a symptom of PAD?

There are a few notable symptoms that are associated with PAD. Cramping, tiredness in the legs and hips, or pain while walking could all be indicators of the disease. Often, the pain experienced while walking will go away after rest. However, this pain will return once you start moving again. This is called intermittent claudication. The blocked blood flow can also cause numbness. This leaves you at a higher chance of developing an infection in your legs or feet. A lot of people mistake PAD for something else, like muscular pain.

How do I know if I’m at risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease, or if I have this disease?

The main risk factor for developing PAD is smoking. If you do smoke, or have a history of doing so, the risk increases as much at 4 times. Obesity also increases your risk. Having a BMI (Body Mass Index) higher than 25 can also increase your chances of PAD, heart disease or stroke. BMI is a comparison of your height to your weight. Diabetes can also cause PAD. High blood pressure and cholesterol can contribute as well. Lastly, being physically inactive increases your chances. The good news is that you can control these risks.

At Central Jersey Foot & Ankle Care, we utilize a machine called PADnetR to test for PAD right in our office. This is a simple, non-invasive system. It helps us detect PAD early on, and the test only takes 15 to 20 minutes. In that time, it provides enough data to determine a suitable surgical or medical treatment and guide a successful treatment plan. We collaborate with other physicians at Centrastate Medical Center to treat Peripheral Arterial Disease.

How is PAD treated?

There are a few ways to treat Peripheral Arterial Disease. The first way is to take different types of medications to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. By lowering these, you could prevent blood clots from forming that could potentially cause a heart attack or stroke. Other medications can also help reduce the leg pain experience. You should also start following a healthy eating plan. Stop smoking, reduce your weight, manage your blood sugar and get moving.

Surgery may be required depending on the severity of the disease. If the blood flow to your feet is completely or almost blocked, a surgical procedure could benefit you. An angioplasty or bypass graft surgery won’t cure PAD, but it can help improve the blood circulation in your legs and help you walk.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of PAD, or think you may have the disease call Central Jersey Foot & Ankle Care to set up an appointment.