According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 12 to 20 percent of Americans who are 60 and over have PAD (Peripheral arterial disease). If you're not familiar with PAD, it is a relatively common health problem that causes arteries in the body to become narrowed, which, in turn, reduces the flow of blood to the limbs. Those who have developed this health condition will often complain of pain, particularly in their legs. It should be noted that PAD can also restrict the flow of blood to the heart and brain as well.
However, in these cases, it is usually the result of fatty deposits that have accumulated in the arteries. It is also important to note that a poor diet, smoking, and leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to PAD as well.
Symptoms of PAD
Those who have developed PAD may not experience any symptoms until the disease has significantly worsened, the exception being leg pain. Commonly referred to as claudication, PAD can cause severe leg pain while walking. In fact, muscle pain or cramping that radiates from the calf while walking are the two most commonly reported symptoms. Additional PAD symptoms may also include
- Numbness or weakness in the legs
- Hair loss affecting the legs or feet
- Slow growing toenails
- Skin discoloration that affects the legs
When should you contact a PAD specialist?
Because claudication is one of the biggest tell-tale signs of PAD, leg pain while walking should prompt you to see a PAD specialist as soon as possible. Similarly, if you meet any of the risk factors for the disease, it is a good idea to be screened regularly. Some of these risk factors include:
- If you're age 65 or over
- If you smoke
- Have diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- Overweight or obese
If claudication goes untreated, PAD symptoms can worsen. In many cases, the pain will become noticeable while you're lying down, which can make getting a good night's sleep difficult. For more information on PAD or to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact us today.