Peripheral Artery Disease – Symptoms and Causes

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as the Peripheral Arterial Disease in simple words, is a blood circulatory problem where plaque starts to build up in the blood vessels as a result of which, blood flow to the limbs is reduced. Peripheral artery disease is quite common with people over the age of 65 but can also affect individuals under the age of 50 if the person has a history of diabetes or smoking.

When a person develops peripheral artery disease, the extremities of the body don’t receive enough blood flow. This causes a stingy pain in the leg muscles when walking. This is also called Claudication. This disease can also occur due to a widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in the blood vessels hence reducing the blood flow to your brain, heart, and other body parts.

PAD often goes undiagnosed and untreated PAD can be very dangerous as it can lead to immense muscle pain and in some cases, loss of the leg. Patients suffering from PAD are more prone to coronary diseases, stroke, and heart attack as the narrow blood vessels can stop the blood flow to the heart.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of PAD is the painful muscle cramping in your lower extremities such as thighs, hips, and calves while walking, climbing, or exercising as the working muscles need more blood flow than the resting muscles.

Other symptoms also include-

-Leg wounds that heal extremely slow

-Dead tissue

-Slow hair and nail growth on your leg and toes respectively

-Change in colour of the leg

-The weakening of pulse in the leg

-In some rare cases, erectile dysfunction in men

PAD needs to be taken seriously especially in people over 50 years of age as the leg pain is often dismissed as a sign of ageing. Sometimes diabetes patients also confuse the pain with neuropathy, a common symptom for diabetes patients. So it’s really important to understand the causes of peripheral artery disease in order to identify the symptoms.

Causes

There are a lot of factors that can increase the risk of peripheral artery disease in a person. It includes-

  • High cholesterol
  • Ageing
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of PAD
  • Obesity

But the most common cause of peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis or in simple words, building up of fatty deposits or plaque in the blood vessels reducing the blood flow. People believe that atherosclerosis only focuses on heart but it can also affect the arteries in the entire body especially the lower extremities.

It’s better to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Quitting smoking if you are a smoker can help in reducing the risk of PAD. Eating foods that are low in saturated fats and exercising for about an hour every other day can also help reduce the cholesterol and blood sugar hence reducing the risk of plaque in the arteries. So eating healthily and living healthy should be the policy with the PAD patients.

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