Wondering what P.A.D. is? Many of you probably know already, but P.A.D. stands for Peripheral Artery Disease. One in every 20 adults over the age of 50 has Peripheral Artery Disease. This occurs when fatty deposits, called plaque, clog the arteries of the legs. This can cause all sorts of problems with your legs and feet, not to mention the increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
The first thing to remember is that pain is not normal! Many people with P.A.D. either exhibit no symptoms or ignore them, writing them off as the general pains of aging. You should not feel pain in your feet or legs at any time. Some of the most common symptoms include pain, cramping, heaviness, or tiredness when walking or climbing stairs, pain that disrupts sleep, color changes in feet or legs, poor nail growth, and sores or wounds that heal slowly or poorly. Even if you don’t exhibit symptoms, people with P.A.D. may notice that they cannot walk as fast or as far as they used to.
So how do we diagnose P.A.D. if most people don’t have clear symptoms? First, discuss your risk factors with your podiatrist or primary care physician. Your risk of P.A.D. is increased if you smoke or used to smoke, have diabetes, have chronic high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or a personal history of heart disease. Your doctor can perform several simple tests to see if you have Peripheral Artery Disease.
They may check the pulse in both your legs, comparing them to each other and the pulse in your arms. If the pulse is weaker in your legs or your legs are different temperatures, this is a good indication that you may have blocked arteries.
Treatment for P.A.D. is usually based on lifestyle changes and managing other conditions such as your blood pressure or cholesterol. Eat healthier, get out and exercise, and quit smoking. Sometimes medications may be prescribed to help eliminate pain or reduce the chance of blood clots. In extreme cases, special procedures or surgeries may be required.
If you think you have or have risk factors for P.A.D., call your podiatrist today. It’s never too early to start yourself on a healthier path and get yourself checked. Don’t block yourself from an active future with blocked arteries!