Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your arms and legs (usually the legs). PAD is caused by fatty buildups (plaque) that harden inside arteries and reduce or block blood flow (atherosclerosis), usually to the legs, feet, fingers and toes – often causing numbness or leg pain when walking. These blockages also cause tissue damage, sometimes leading to severe damage and amputation. PAD is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart and brain, in addition to your legs.
Approximately 10 million people in the United States have PAD. However, nearly 75% of people with PAD do no experience any symptoms, while others have leg pain when walking, known as intermittent claudication. Intermittent cluadication includes muscle pain or cramping in your legs or arms that is prompted by activity and disappears after rest. Other symptoms include: numbness or weakness in your leg, your leg or foot feels cold, open sores on your legs, feet or toes that won’t heal, a change in skin color of your legs, loss of hair on your feet and legs, slower growth of your toenails, shiny skin on your legs, a weak pulse or no pulse in your legs or feet, and erectile dysfunction in men.
Anyone at risk for heart disease is also susceptible to PAD, including people over 50 with a history of diabetes, smoking, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of PAD and obesity. People with PAD are also at high risk for heart attack and stroke.
Reducing risk factors is the best way to prevent PAD. If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. Other steps you can take are to exercise and eat a healthy diet. For those who have diabetes, careful foot care is especially important, as they are at higher risk of poor healing of sores on the lower legs and feet.
At Metro Heart & Vascular, we take a comprehensive and coordinated team approach to the treatment of PAD. Our team compassionately works with each patient to develop an appropriate treatment plan. These plans have two major goals, manage symptoms and stop the progression of fatty buildups. Treatments often include a combination of lifestyle changes, medications and minimally invasive endovascular procedures. To view some of our patients’ stories, click here.
The specialists at Metro Heart & Vascular offer a full array of heart and vascular services. For more information or to schedule an appointment at any one of our six locations in the West Michigan area, call (616) 252-5950.