Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Signs and Symptoms
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common condition that affects a significant number of people in the United States. It is estimated that approximately one in 20 people will develop PAD after reaching the age of 50. PAD is characterized by the accumulation of arterial plaque, which is primarily caused by atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a medical disorder involving plaque accumulation (fatty deposits) within the arteries. When left unaddressed, this plaque can cause arterial constriction and hardening, reducing blood flow. In the case of PAD, arteries that transport blood to the lower limbs are primarily affected.
There are several risk factors associated with the development of atherosclerosis and, consequently, PAD. These include the following:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Advanced age
- Elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
What are the Symptoms of PAD?
In its early stages, PAD symptoms might not be noticeable, which can make it challenging to diagnose and treat. However, there are common signs that you should be aware of to identify the presence of PAD.
- Lower Limb Pain: One of the most common symptoms of PAD is leg pain, which typically occurs during physical activity and is often described as cramping or aching. This pain, known as claudication, is caused by inhibited blood flow to the muscles due to narrowed or blocked arteries. The pain usually subsides with rest but returns when activity resumes.
- Numbness or Weak Limbs: This symptom can make it challenging to participate in daily activities and lead to a feeling of heaviness or fatigue in the legs. The decreased blood flow to the affected limbs can also result in skin discoloration, known as trophic changes. The skin may appear bluish or even purplish, indicating inadequate oxygen supply.
- Slow Wound Healing: Due to reduced blood flow, injuries to the legs or feet may take longer to heal. Even minor cuts or sores can become challenging to manage, increasing infection risk. In severe cases, non-healing wounds may develop into ulcers or gangrene.
- Diminished Pulse: A weak pulse is due to the reduced blood flow caused by blocked or narrowed arteries. A weak pulse can be an essential indicator of PAD and should not be ignored, especially if accompanied by other symptoms.
It is important to note that while these symptoms are common, not everyone with PAD will experience all of them. Some individuals may only have one or two of the symptoms mentioned above. Additionally, symptoms may vary in severity depending on the extent of the arterial blockage.
Lower Your Risk of PAD
There are several precautionary measures you can take to lower your risk of developing PAD and maintain good vascular health.
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels, accelerates atherosclerosis, and heightens the risk of blood clot formation. By avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing PAD.
- Regular Vigorous Exercise: Physical activity helps improve blood circulation, strengthens the heart, and promotes the growth of collateral blood vessels, which can compensate for any blockages. Incorporating activities such as brisk walking, running, cycling, or swimming into your routine can have a positive impact on your vascular system.
- Healthy Diet: A diet consisting primarily of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and heart-healthy fats can help manage blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight. Limiting the consumption of sodium, saturated and trans fats, and processed foods is also recommended.
Texas Endovascular: Providing Compassionate Care for PAD
If you experience symptoms such as leg pain, cramping, numbness, or wounds that won't heal, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly.
Visiting a specialistVisiting a specialistVisiting a specialist at Texas Endovascular can ensure accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing management of PAD. Our team of experts utilizes advanced techniques and technologies to provide comprehensive care and improve your quality of life.