Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is more commonly known as hardening of the arteries. PAD is a condition in which the large and medium-sized arteries supplying blood to the legs become narrow or clogged, constricting the flow of blood. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a gradual process in which cholesterol and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called plaque that clogs the artery. PAD not only causes pain and disability, it also is associated with a much higher risk of heart disease.
||Facts About Peripheral Arterial Disease
||People with PAD have a 2- to 6-fold increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke
PAD may be present without showing any signs or symptoms. Many people experience discomfort while walking that is relieved by rest, but are unaware that it is due to blocked arteries. Some people with PAD experience the following:
- Pain during exercise, which is relieved during rest
- Cold legs
- Poor wound healing
- Constant leg pain, tingling, burning, or loss of sensation
The following factors are indicative of your risk for peripheral arterial disease:
- Family history
- Increasing age
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
- Heart disease
- Physical inactivity
Eliminating or controlling any risk factors you have is the best way to decrease your risk of peripheral arterial disease. In addition, it is important to have regular preventive health screenings.
Diagnosis and screening
Electrocardiogram, ultrasound, blood tests, and angiography (injecting dye into blood vessels for imaging) are all tools for determining PAD. Another one is the ankle-brachial index screening, a non-invasive screening that compares the blood pressure in your ankle to that in your arm. Learn more about how these screenings from Life Line Screening can help you understand your risk for PAD:
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