What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Posted July 17, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
leg blood pressure

Peripheral artery disease (often called peripheral arterial disease or PAD) is a circulatory issue involving narrowed arteries reducing blood flow around a person’s body, usually to the arms and legs. The lack of blood flow that occurs as a result of peripheral artery disease can cause a variety of negative symptoms in a patient, although one of the most commonly complained about symptoms is leg pain that occurs when walking.

Peripheral artery disease can also be an indication of accumulated fatty deposits in your arteries, which reduces blood flow to your heart, brain, and legs.

There’s a lot more to peripheral artery disease, though – in this article, we take a closer look at symptoms and treatment potential for peripheral artery disease:

Introduction to Peripheral Artery Disease

It might be the case that someone with peripheral artery disease presents mild or no symptoms whatsoever when they have the condition, while some people have leg pain when walking. To get an understanding of whether someone has peripheral artery disease, the blood pressure in the leg can quickly and easily be tested with an ankle brachial index doppler, a device used to test systolic blood pressures of limbs.

The pain that occurs in the legs is called claudication, and can include both  muscle pain and/or cramping in legs or arms that develops with use or activity, such as walking, but after rest occurs the symptoms disappear quickly. The site of the pain will depend on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery, so will depend on the unique case of the person (although the calf is the most common pain site). Pain can also differ to an extreme, and can range from very mild discomfort to debilitating pain, which can prevent people from becoming active.

Although claudication is the most common symptom of peripheral artery disease, there can be several other symptoms present. These include leg numbness or weakness, loss of hair slower hair growth on feet and legs, coldness in the lower leg or foot on the side with the issue, development of sores on toes, feet or legs that won’t heal and shiny skin on your legs, among others.

Treatment and Risk

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to not put them off for too long – although it’s simple to dismiss such symptoms as a natural sign of aging, consulting with your general practitioner can quickly confirm or deny your belief and potentially save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t necessarily need to demonstrate strong symptoms to have the condition. There are a few factors that can contribute to the onset of peripheral artery disease, such as being over the age of 65, being over the age of 50 and having a history of smoking or diabetes, being under 50 but having diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease, or stroke. 

Do You Need to Get Checked?

If you have any of the above symptoms, or relate to any of the risk factors, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor as quickly as possible. Although you might find that there’s nothing to worry about, there’s always a chance that you can catch your peripheral artery disease before it does too much damage.