Want to hear a scary statistic? By the time they turn 60, up to 20% of Americans develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition that affects blood flow to your lower limbs. Also, at the time when they turn 40, 20 % of American men and 40% of American women have some sort of problem with their leg veins. So, what do these numbers add up to?
The older you get, the more likely you are to develop some type of vein or arterial disease. Which means you really need to understand the variety of conditions that can affect your vein, and start exploring your treatment options—before problems start developing!
What causes PAD and vein disease?
PAD is most often a result of atherosclerosis, a slow process during which a fatty material (plaque) builds up in your arteries, reducing blood flow. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase your PAD risk, but so does age. In fact, passing the 50 year mark, and having a family history of PAD, heart disease or stroke, are two key risk factors for this dangerous condition.
Symptoms of PAD include:
Muscle pain, leg cramps, or heaviness when walking (this typically resolves after a few minutes of rest.)
· Calf pain
· Numbness or weakness
· Pain in your buttocks
· Cold legs and feet
· Leg and/or foot ulcers
· Hair loss or slower hair growth
Now, let’s take a look at chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition occurs when the valves of your leg veins stop working well, making it harder for blood to flow up to your heart. Instead, that blood can pool up in your legs, leaving you with symptoms like bulging, noticeable varicose veins.
Other symptoms include:
· Sore, tired, restless and/or heavy legs
· Pain or fatigue
· Blood clots, especially Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
· Leg, foot or ankle swelling (edema)
· Hard, thickened skin
· Changes in skin color
While PAD and CVI can strike anyone, at any time, the older you are, the higher your risk of developing either condition. So, if you’ve noticed a change in the way your legs feel, and your 40th birthday has passed, it’s a good idea to schedule a diagnostic ultrasound to rule out or diagnose a developing vein or arterial condition.