Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) develops when plaque, or fatty deposits, build up in your arteries that limits blood flow to your legs. Just like plaque build-up in the arteries of the heart, plaque build-up in the legs indicates greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
Plaque build-up in the legs may not always cause symptoms so many people can have PAD and not know it. People who do experience symptoms, such as pain or cramping in the legs, often do not report them, believing they are a natural part of aging or due to another cause. PAD affects 8 to 12 million people in the United States, especially those over age 50.
The cause of plaque build-up in the limbs is unknown in most cases. However, there are some conditions and habits that raise your chance of developing PAD.
Typical signs and symptoms of PAD include:
Your healthcare provider will determine the best treatment options for you based on your medical history and the severity of the condition. If you have more than one risk factor, start working on the one that you are most ready to change. Keep changes simple and be sure to include friends and family to support you, add fun activities, and enjoy good healthy foods to guarantee success! Remember that many conditions are improved and your risk decreases when you quit smoking. Check with your insurance provider to see what assistance they provide for smoking cessation.
St.Vincent is concerned about your health. If you do not have a Primary Care physician and would like to find one in your area, please call 317-356-CARE (2273).