According to the American Heart Association, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a serious condition that may lead to limb loss, stroke, heart attack and/or sudden death. Most people are not aware that they have it until it is too late.
The good news is that it does not have to stay that way. It is important to learn about the factors that may put you at risk for PAD and to proactively be checked for blockages. Taking proactive steps can help save your limbs or even your life.
About Peripheral Arterial Disease Peripheral arterial disease occurs when the arteries in the limbs, primarily the legs, become hardened and narrowed, usually due to the buildup of plaque. It is similar to coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease. As a result, when the muscles of your legs are working harder (e.g., during exercise), they can't get enough blood and oxygen. Eventually, there may not be enough blood and oxygen even when the muscles are resting.
The most common symptoms of PAD are cramping, tingling in the extremities or pain or fatigue in the leg, calf or hip muscles while walking or exercising. Typically, this pain disappears with rest and returns when you walk or exercise again.
What You Should Know About PAD
Many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else
PAD often goes undiagnosed by health care professionals
People with peripheral vascular disease have four-to-five times more risk of heart attack or stroke
Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation
You are at especially high risk for PAD if you smoke, live a sedentary lifestyle, have a family history of PAD, are obese, diabetic or have high cholesterol or blood pressure.