Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, affects more than 8 million Americans. Many people don’t know they have it. But PAD is a very serious condition that has also been linked to heart attack and stroke.
If you have PAD, blood is not flowing well to your arms, legs, or kidneys and other vital organs. Lack of oxygen-rich blood can harm the nerves and tissues in these areas. That’s why having artery disease in your legs can make it hard to walk. You might have painful cramping or numbness.
Not enough blood in the legs can also make infections more likely. In some cases when lack of blood goes on for a while, muscles and tissue can die and cause some people to need to have have surgery to remove their leg, also called an amputation.
The good news is treatments and lifestyle changes can help manage PAD. By treating it, you can also prevent related heart attack, stroke, surgery to remove a leg, and death. The more you know about managing PAD, the more empowered you will be to improve your health.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) happens when fat and cholesterol, also called plaque, build up in the walls of the arteries in your limbs – most often the legs. This buildup can cause the arteries to become stiff and narrow so not enough blood flows to your arms and legs.
PAD also can cause you to suddenly lose blood supply in your limbs. This is like a heart attack in your leg. If not treated quickly, it can cause you to have surgery to remove your leg, or even death.
PAD is a red flag that you could be more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the future.
The risk factors for developing PAD are similar to those for coronary artery disease (CAD). Many people who have PAD either have diabetes or have smoked, or both.
Other risk factors for developing PAD include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and family history of PAD. As we age, the chance of having PAD also increases.