Early Diagnosis of Blocked Arteries Can Save Your Life
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. This affects not only your legs but also your heart and brain.
When you develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD), your extremities – usually your legs – don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication).
Peripheral arterial disease is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition may be reducing blood flow to your heart and brain, as well as your legs.
Check if you are in the risk group: https://healthyarteries.co.uk/#what-is-pad
While many people with peripheral arterial disease have mild or no symptoms, some people have leg pain when walking (claudication).
Claudication symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in your legs or arms that’s triggered by activity, such as walking, but disappears after a few minutes of rest. The location of the pain depends on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery. Calf pain is the most common location.
Severe claudication can make it hard for you to walk or do other types of physical activity.
Peripheral artery disease symptoms include:
- Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles e.g. after walking or climbing stairs (claudication)
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot
- Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
- A change in the colour of your legs
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
- Slower growth of your toenails
- Shiny skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
If peripheral arterial disease progresses, pain may even occur when you’re at rest or when you’re lying down (ischemic rest pain). It may be intense enough to disrupt sleep.
When to see your Doctor or Podiatrist
If you have leg pain, numbness or other symptoms, don’t dismiss them as a normal part of ageing. Make an appointment with your Doctor or Podiatrist.
Even if you don’t have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, you may need to be screened if you are:
- Over age 70
- Over age 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking
- Under age 50, but have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, such as obesity or high blood pressure
Factors that increase your risk of developing peripheral artery disease include:
- Obesity (a body mass index over 30)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age
- A family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke
- High levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing peripheral artery disease due to reduced blood flow.
If your peripheral artery disease is caused by a build-up of plaques in your blood vessels (atherosclerosis), you’re also at risk of developing:
- Critical limb ischemia.This condition begins as open sores that don’t heal, an injury, or an infection of your feet or legs. Critical limb ischemia occurs when such injuries or infections progress and can cause tissue death (gangrene), sometimes requiring amputation of the affected limb.
- Stroke and heart attack.The atherosclerosis that causes the signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease isn’t limited to your legs. Fat deposits also build up in arteries supplying your heart and brain.
The best way to prevent claudication is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That means:
- Quit smoking if you’re a smoker.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in good control.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes several times a week after you have approval from your Doctor or Podiatrist.
- Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, if applicable.
- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Measurement with Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)
Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) is a very simple comparison of blood pressure in legs and arms. It is non-invasive and painless and it can be done by your Podiatrist at Epsom Footcare.
Source: Healthy Arteries @ 2018 MESI d.o.o.