Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): Learn the Signs and Symptoms
February is American Heart Month. To help educate our patients on podiatric heart related issues, we are sharing information about PAD.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) commonly referred to as poor circulation, affects 8 to 12 million Americans. Those over the age of 70 have the disease at a rate of one in every five people. PAD and diabetes are the leading causes of foot or leg amputations in the United States.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is caused by a blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the legs when fatty deposits or plaque build up. This results in a reduction of blood flow to the legs and feet.
Causes of PAD:
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Genetics – a family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke
- High levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
Symptoms may include:
- Fatigue, tiredness, or pain in your legs, thighs, or buttocks that occur when you walk, but goes away with rest
- Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs your sleep.
- Skin wounds or ulcers on your feet or toes that are slow to heal (longer than 8-12 weeks).
- You find yourself dangling your foot/leg on the side of the bed due to discomfort.
Poor circulation can lead to numerous problems, one being Arterial Ulcers. Read some of the most common signs below.
Common Signs of an Arterial Ulcer:
- Punched-out appearance
- Smooth wound edges
- Cool to the touch
- Skin is pale, shiny, taut, and thin
- Minimal to no hair growth on the limbs
- Painful, especially at night or with elevation of the leg
When to Visit Your Podiatrist
Do not ignore leg pain. It is important to discuss any leg or thigh pain that you are having with your podiatric physician since it could be a warning sign of a serious disease such as PAD. In many of our offices, we can perform non invasive testing to diagnose PAD. Early detection of PAD can offer an opportunity to treat risk factors that can slow the progression of the disease and proper referrals can be made if necessary for vascular intervention.
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