Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease with Texas Endovascular
Finding the underlying cause of your symptoms and providing the treatment you need—sooner.
Lower extremity peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a circulatory condition that affects about 10% of the population.
Although some patients may not experience symptoms, 30% to 40% of those with moderate to severe PAD cases will. Symptoms are often overlooked or attributed to aging or inactivity; however, if you are experiencing any unusual leg symptoms regularly, it’s best to get checked.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with PAD, need detailed answers to questions like “What is PAD?” or are experiencing symptoms consistent with the condition, our team of vein specialists at Texas Endovascular is here for you.
Let’s explore PAD, including its symptoms, causes, risk factors, and preventions.
What Is PAD?
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a circulatory disease that occurs when narrowed arteries in the legs or arms reduce blood flow throughout the body.
When this happens, the body cannot keep up with its standard demands, leading to various symptoms, including leg pain.
The most common cause of PAD is plaque buildup inside the arteries.
This plaque consists of cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, and fatty substances. It causes the arteries to narrow and harden, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
When this happens, blood flow is extensively reduced to vital organs and limbs, preventing them from keeping up with the body’s demands.
Since plaque narrows arteries and prevents the blood from flowing as it should, a blood clot can form on the plaque’s surface, or a piece of the plaque can break off and stop the flow completely, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
Other less common causes of PAD include:
- Blood vessel inflammation
- Injury to the arms or legs
- Changes in the muscles or ligaments of the arms or legs
- Radiation exposure
No matter the cause, PAD limits the flow of oxygen-containing blood to the legs, which can cause painful and debilitating symptoms.
Common Risk Factors
The primary risk factor for PAD is tobacco use.
Other common risk factors include:
- Older age; being 50 and older
- Having diabetes
- Having high blood cholesterol
- Having high blood pressure
- Having heart disease
- Having abdominal obesity
Signs and Symptoms of PAD
Individuals with PAD do not always experience symptoms due to the disease gradually worsening over many years.
Individuals with PAD often experience mild cramping and leg pain early on during active periods of walking or running. This pain can usually be relieved by resting the legs but will return once the activity is resumed.
Too often, patients do not seek professional care until their health worsens to the point that symptoms become severe and debilitating.
The most common symptoms of PAD include:
- Coldness or numbness of the legs and feet
- Discoloration in the legs
- Cramping of the hips, thighs, or calf muscles
- Difficulty in healing from minor wounds on the legs or feet
- Burning or aching sensations of the feet
- Poor toenail growth
- Pain while or soon after walking
- Slowed hair growth on the legs
- Erectile dysfunction
Don’t live with unanswered questions like, “Could my symptoms be PAD” and “What is PAD, anyway?” Contact Texas Endovascular at the first sign of unusual leg pain during normal daily activities, like walking.
With simple diagnostic testing and minimally invasive treatments available, there is no need to avoid activities you love to keep your leg pain under control.
Who Is at Risk for PAD?
PAD is a common disease among Americans and can affect anyone at anytime.
Smokers and those with diabetes have the highest risk of developing PAD. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- A family history of PAD, heart disease, or stroke
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Age, especially those over 65
- An increased level of homocysteine, which increases the risk of coronary artery disease
If left untreated, PAD could result in severe and potentially life-threatening consequences, including:
- Heart attack
- Critical limb ischemia (an infection that causes tissue to die), which could lead to amputation or limb loss
The best way to reduce your risk of developing PAD or mitigate the severity of your symptoms is to live a healthy lifestyle by:
- Not smoking
- Eating a healthy balanced diet, low in saturated fat
- Controlling your blood sugar
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Monitoring and managing your cholesterol and blood pressure
Effective PAD Treatment at Texas Endovascular
At Texas Endovascular, our board-certified physicians have extensive education and training in diagnosing and treating PAD.