Do you have peripheral arterial disease?

FEATURE — If you have any of following symptoms:

  • Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after activity such as walking or climbing stairs
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in your lower leg or foot
  • Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
  • A change in the color of your legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
  • Slower growth of your toenails
  • Shiny skin on your legs
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction (if you are male)

You may be one of many who suffer from peripheral arterial disease.

Peripheral arterial disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease, is a potentially dangerous condition that many are not familiar with. Surprisingly, many studies have found that less than 50 percent of patients with PAD and their physicians know that they have it.

We now know that one out of three patients over seventy years of age (or over fifty years with diabetes or smoking) has PAD. At times, PAD is confused with other lower extremity ailments, such as diabetic neuropathy.

What exactly is PAD?

PAD is a condition of plaque build-up in the arteries outside of the heart and brain. This plaque build-up causes narrowing or blockage of the artery.

Why should I care?

The diagnosis of PAD should not be overlooked for two important reasons:

First, patients with PAD may experience many of the symptoms above. This can lead to future hospitalizations and, potentially, limb amputation. Also, patients with PAD tend to have a poor quality of life and a higher rate of depression. Second, patients with PAD have a significantly greater likelihood of experiencing a heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death.

Can anything be done?

Yes. First of all, the diagnosis must be made. This can be accomplished by a simple test called an Ankle-Brachial Index. If the diagnosis is made, treatment options include lifestyle changes, exercise programs, medications and minimally invasive procedures to open up the arteries.

Gardner, BlakeWritten by Blake Gardner for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Dr. Blake Gardner, MD and board-certified cardiologist, graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine and did his residency at the University of Utah before continuing his training at the University of Rochester. He completed his cardiovascular and interventional cardiology fellowships and currently practices cardiology at Heart of Dixie in St. George.

St. George Health and Wellness website

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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