What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Artery DiseasePeripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when your arteries narrow, restricting the flow of blood to your extremities, particularly your legs.

When you have PAD, you may experience leg pain when you walk or exercise, because your arteries are not carrying sufficient blood to the limb to accommodate the extra activity. Leg pain while walking is called claudication.

You can usually improve or resolve PAD by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a whole-food diet, quitting smoking, and exercising. If you don’t treat PAD or make lifestyle changes, you increase your risk of severe complications, including heart attack and death.

What Causes PAD?

The main cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, a condition in which blobs of fat accumulate on your arterial walls. The fat deposits slow down the flow of blood.  Less common causes of PAD include:

  • Inflammation of blood vessels
  • Limb injury
  • Radiation exposure
  • Anatomical defects of ligaments or muscles

How Can I Tell If I Have PAD?

Symptoms of PAD can easily be mistaken for other conditions, including age-related changes. Talk to the podiatric experts at Alliance Ankle & Foot Specialists if you notice PAD symptoms such as:

  • Pain or cramps while walking or doing physical activities
  • Cold legs or one leg colder than the other
  • Change of color or shininess in leg skin
  • Leg hair that falls out or grows slowly
  • Toenails that grow slowly
  • Weak or no pulse in legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction (men)
  • Leg pain that awakens you at night

What Are Some Risk Factors for PAD?

The following factors increase your risk for PAD:

  • Age over 50
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High levels of homocysteine
  • Family history of PAD, high blood pressure, or heart disease

What Are the Best Treatments for PAD?

Your podiatrist at Alliance Ankle & Foot Specialists helps you make healthy lifestyle changes to resolve your PAD.

For example, that includes quitting smoking and exercising regularly. When you emphasize whole foods in your diet—including fruits and vegetables—you not only lower your cholesterol and resolve your PAD, you better manage or avoid diabetes.

If you have leg cramps or pain, contact the experts at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists.