What is P.A.D?
Peripheral Artery Disease (P.A.D.) commonly refers to blockages in the blood vessels of legs and feet. P.A.D. is sometimes referred to as “poor circulation” in the legs. While most people have never heard of P.A.D., it is a common cause of disability, pain, restricted lifestyle, and even amputation. P.A.D. makes it hard or impossible to walk and climb stairs. Importantly, P.A.D. is a serious blood vessel disease, putting people at more than double the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Over 8.5 million people in the U.S. have P.A.D. Many people mistake the signs and symptoms of P.A.D. for arthritis or aging. These symptoms may include leg pain, muscle fatigue, cold feet, and non-healing ulcers. For example, P.A.D. can cause achy, ‘crampy’ feeling or pain in the muscles when the legs are used. This can happen when you walk or climb stairs, however, the discomfort usually goes away when you rest.
What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
P.A.D. occurs when arteries in the legs and feet become narrow or clogged with fatty deposits called plaque. The plague limits the blood flow to the arteries, when this happens patients may experience mild symptoms such as leg cramping and restlessness or more severe symptoms such as leg pain, cold foot, non-healing ulcers, black toes and even gangrene.
The blockages that cause P.A.D. can also occur in blood vessels of the heart or brain. If a fatty deposit or plaque breaks apart in these blood vessels, a blood clot can form. These clots can block the flow of blood to your heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke. Undiagnosed or untreated P.A.D. can be dangerous; it can lead to painful symptoms, loss of a leg, increased risk of coronary artery disease, and carotid atherosclerosis (a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the brain).
Because people with P.A.D. have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, the American Heart Association encourages people at risk to discuss P.A.D. with their HealthCare Provider to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.