Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a relatively common condition that impairs blood circulation due to plaque build-up forming along artery walls. This reduces blood flow to your limbs and is often a sign that you're at risk of developing related conditions, such as atherosclerosis. Here's an overview of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for PAD:
Causes And Symptoms
It's not always possible to determine why a person develops PAD, but there are some factors that are thought to increase your risk of developing this condition, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Additionally, having a family history of PAD or other vascular conditions, such as strokes, can leave you more prone to developing this condition.
Symptoms of PAD include pain or cramping in one or more of your limbs during periods of activity, such as walking, and numb or cold feet during periods of rest. Cuts or sores on your feet may take longer to heal and the growth of your toenails and fingernails may slow down. Additionally, PAD can cause some men to develop erectile dysfunction.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
To diagnose PAD, your doctor will take details of your symptoms and carry out a thorough physical exam. Blood samples will be taken to check your cholesterol and to screen for underlying health conditions, such as diabetes. You will also be referred for an ultrasound, which will allow your doctor to see how your peripheral arteries are working and whether there are any sections that are narrowed or blocked.
Treatment for PAD focuses on preventing any further build-up of plaque in your arteries and improving your symptoms. Lifestyle changes often play a significant role in treating PAD, and you may be advised to stop smoking or to change your diet to reduce fat and sugar intake. You may be prescribed medication to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, and a blood thinner may be prescribed to help keep your blood flowing well through narrowed arteries and reduce the risk of you developing a blood clot. In some cases, a procedure known as angioplasty may be recommended. This involves having the narrow sections of artery dilated with a small surgical balloon. Once the artery wall is stretched enough to allow for sufficient blood flow, a stent may be inserted into the dilated section of the artery to keep it open.
If you have any symptoms associated with PAD, or if you have any concerns about your vascular health, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.Share
27 February 2020
Thanks for visiting my health blog! My name's Caroline. A few years ago, I started to notice changes in my appearance. My hair was dull, my eyes were circled with dark rings, and my skin was looking like it used to when I was a teenager. When cosmetic treatments didn't fix things, I realised the problem wasn't on the outside of my body—it was on the inside! That's when I started researching how to keep myself healthy. To my surprise, improving my internal health really worked. A few years down the line, I feel and look better than ever, and I'm ready to share what I've learned with all of you.