Discover The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment For Peripheral Arterial Disease.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a disease that causes plaque to build up in the arteries in your legs and the arteries that carry blood to your head, limbs, and organs. Plaque consists of fatty deposits containing calcium, cholesterol, fat, fibrous tissue, and other substances found in the blood. The buildup of plaque in your arteries causes them to harden and narrow. This condition is called atherosclerosis and results in the restriction of blood flow to the legs and feet.
PAD can lead to many serious complications and even death. PAD affects approximately 10 to 20% of senior citizens in the US. PAD increases your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and transient ischemic attack (aka mini-stroke). People who have PAD have a two to six times’ greater chance of dying of a stroke or heart attack. PAD is also the leading cause of foot and leg amputations in the US.
In order to determine whether you have PAD, your Seattle podiatrist can do a simple test called the ankle-brachial index (ABI). The ABI test compares the blood pressure in your ankles to the blood pressure in your arm. If your ABI test results are abnormal, your podiatrist may need to order additional tests to determine the severity of your PAD.
Signs And Symptoms Of Pad
The signs and symptoms of PAD include the following:
- Pain, heaviness, aching, or numbness in the leg muscles when walking or climbing stairs
- Cramping in the feet, calves, thighs, or buttocks
- Sores or wounds on the toes, heels, or legs that heal slowly or don’t heal at all
- Foot or toe pain at rest that disturbs your sleep
- Poor nail growth on the toes
- Decreased hair growth on the legs
Many people with PAD don’t have any signs or symptoms, however. You should get tested for PAD if you are over the age of 70, over the age of 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking, or younger than 50 and have diabetes and one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis, which include high blood pressure, unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, smoking, insulin resistance, and obesity.
Treatment And Prevention Of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Early diagnosis and treatment of PAD is crucial because it can improve your quality of life or even save your life. If left untreated, PAD may cause sores or gangrene. In the worst-case scenario, it may become necessary to amputate part of your leg or foot.
PAD can be treated with medications, lifestyle changes, and surgery. You can decrease your risk for developing PAD by taking steps to control risk factors, including the following:
- Physical inactivity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Treatment often includes lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, lowering high blood cholesterol and blood pressure, lowering blood glucose levels if you have diabetes, and being physically active. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat, total fat, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. If you are overweight or obese, work with a doctor to develop a weight loss plan. A doctor may also prescribe medications to treat PAD, such as medications that lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent blood clots from forming, or ease leg pain.
Visit A Seattle Podiatrist For A Checkup
Never ignore leg pain. If you suspect that you have PAD or just want to be sure that you don’t have it, visit your Seattle podiatrist for a checkup. PAD is serious but treatable. Early diagnosis and treatment can slow or stop the progression of the disease as well as reduce the risk of complications. Contact the Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington today to schedule an appointment with our podiatrists. We have locations in Kirkland, Redmond, Everett, and Renton.