Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the arteries that feed the legs and feet. It is caused by fatty deposit buildup on the walls of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” PAD is serious because it restricts blood flow to the extremities. Left untreated, PAD can lead to foot and leg pain, open sores that won’t heal, and, eventually, possible amputation.
Although some people with PAD don’t experience symptoms, as the disease progresses it is more than likely that they will.
Symptoms of PAD include:
- Pain in the calves, buttocks or one or both hips, usually after walking
- Weakness or numbness in the legs
- Sores on the feet or lower legs
- Shiny skin/color changes on the legs
- Coldness in one foot or both
- Weak or undetectable pulse in the legs
- Erectile dysfunction
Treatment for PAD
Treatment for PAD is extremely important. Left untreated, lack of blood flow to your extremities can result in amputation of your foot and possibly your leg. To minimize further damage to your vascular system, your doctor will take steps to help you improve your health. You may need to stop smoking, lose weight, start an exercise program and/or begin taking medications for conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, blood clot prevention and chronic pain.
Our CiC doctors are experts in treating all levels of PAD, from early onset to severe. We offer a minimally-invasive procedure that removes plaque buildup, opening even the smallest arteries and improving blood flow to the legs and feet. It’s done in our office, you go home within hours, with little to no pain or discomfort.
What you Can Do about Peripheral Artery Disease
PAD is a serious disease that develops over many years, but there are things you can do to protect your feet and legs from further damage and to slow or stop progression of the disease.
Stop smoking. If you smoke, the most important thing you can do to help your PAD is to quit. Smoking is a top cause of PAD and every cigarette hurts you. Talk to your doctor about tips for quitting, medications that can make it easier, and support group options in your area. You can quit. And, for the sake of your health, you need to. Now is the time!
Keep your appointments. Your CiC doctor will need to keep on top of your health with regular, scheduled appointments. Atherosclerosis can get progressively worse and, over time, affect your brain and heart, so it is in your best interests to keep your appointments.
Protect your feet. Injuries to your feet and toes can easily develop into serious wounds for people with PAD. Because sensation in your feet may be compromised, you may not even know there is a problem. Check your feet and toes daily for sores, cuts or scrapes. Take care when trimming nails. A foot doctor can help with any issues that develop.
Nutrition. People with PAD need a diet that does not contribute to atherosclerosis. Choose food options like lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Recipes labeled “heart-healthy” are good options. Avoid saturated fats, extra salt, added sugar and too much alcohol. Your doctor can help with nutrition recommendations.
Exercise. Your doctor will probably ask you how far you are able to walk without pain. Even though exercising may be the last thing you want to do when your legs are cramping, it has been shown to have a positive effect on PAD symptoms and can slow the progression of the disease. Talk to your CiC doctor to learn about different exercises you can do.
Bundle up your feet. When your feet are cold, symptoms tend to be worse. Wear warm socks when you go out and take measures to keep your feet warm at home, too.
Raise your bed. Keeping your legs below the level of your heart can help with PAD pain at night. To achieve this, raise the head of your bed four to six inches. If you need immediate relief, hanging your legs over the side of your bed for a few minutes can help.
CiC doctors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of PAD. If you suffer from PAD symptoms, let us help you. Call our office today.
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