Peripheral Artery Disease: Sneaky Symptoms


WebMD Health

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) develops over time. And in the early stages, you may not even realize it is happening. But there are things you can do to reduce your chances of ever getting PAD. The first step is to understand how it works when you are in danger and how it happens.

PAD occurs when certain arteries – usually in your legs – narrow due to plaque buildup. This will prevent blood from flowing into your limbs as it should.

Some people feel no symptoms while others ignore them if they are subtle at first. If not located and treated, PAD can lead to gangrene – areas of dead tissue – and require amputation. And the same process of plaque build-up can take place in the blood vessels that supply the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Treating PAD can help prevent this from happening. That is why early detection is key.

“The biggest problem we see is people being late,” says Michael S. Conte, MD, professor and director of the Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at the University of California at San Francisco.

“[They’re] waiting too long, thinking it is nothing, thinking it is age, thinking that stain on your foot is going to go away, and waiting so long for things that then we have to do really complicated surgeries and procedures to save a leg “Says Comte.

Know your risk

The three main risk factors for PAD are age, diabetes, and smoking.

Age. It is quite uncommon for this disease to occur in people under the age of 50 unless they have a history of diabetes or smoking.

diabetes. High blood sugar can prepare the artery walls for plaque to build up. Diabetes, when combined with PAD, can add other problems to the equation as well. About 15% of people with diabetes get foot ulcers, and if you also have PAD the risk of limb amputation is five to ten times higher.

Smoking. Smoking, which worsens the narrowing and damage to your arteries, increases the chance of PAD by 400% and leads to PAD symptoms almost 10 years earlier.

PAD can also occur if you get radiation in your neck or legs. Radiation to treat tumors can block arteries across the board – 3 to 10 or more years later.

Other things that can increase your chances of getting PAD include:

  • Obesity (body mass index over 30)
  • high blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • A family history of peripheral arterial disease, heart disease, or stroke
  • High levels of homocysteine

Men develop PAD more often than women, and earlier – about a decade earlier than women. PAD also disproportionately affects Blacks and Native Americans, and this gap widens with age.

How fast is PAD developing?

PAD usually engages over time, not suddenly. But it doesn’t always go from easy to medium to very bad. How quickly it happens also varies from person to person and depends on things, where the blockage is and your general health.

You can also have PAD without any major symptoms at first. But in time you would.

“When it comes to true peripheral arterial disease, where blood flow to the leg arteries is severely impaired, pretty much all of these people are affected [who have it] have some kind of functional limitation, ”says cardiologist Aaron W. Aday, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The most common symptom of PAD is leg pain or weakness, usually in the calf muscles when you walk. It can be slightly uncomfortable or extremely painful, making it difficult for you to be active. A few minutes of rest usually relieves pain.

Other signs to look out for include:

  • Pain in the hip, thigh, or calf muscles after walking or climbing stairs
  • Weak or numb legs
  • Cold in one lower leg or foot compared to the other side
  • Wounds on toes, feet, or legs that do not heal
  • A change in the color of your legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on the feet and legs
  • Slower growth of the toenails
  • Shiny skin on the legs
  • No pulse or weak pulse in legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Aches and pains, such as aches and pains, and cramps when using your arms for basic tasks

Why you may not realize that you have peripheral arterial disease

The reason some people may not experience typical PAD symptoms is still a mystery. But here are a few reasons why you might think you don’t have it, but you do.

It’s too early to tell. As PAD unfolds over time, red flags may not be apparent yet. Many people with PAD have no noticeable symptoms until the artery has narrowed by 60% or more.

They assume it’s aging or a joint problem. The symptoms associated with orthopedic conditions such as lumbar spine disease and spinal stenosis arthritis often feel the same as PAD. Likewise, problems with nerves, which can cause similar pain if pinched. It takes a doctor to find out what is causing your pain.

Other diseases can mask the signs of PAOD. Another condition could be preventing you from being active enough to experience symptoms. Or mask pain from another health problem from PAD.

The location of the blockage affects what you feel. Where your PAD is and how far it goes can affect how you feel. The further the block is in your limb, the greater the chance that PAD will come on late and with a worse symptom, not earlier with more common warning signs like leg pain.

How to Manage Your Symptoms

If you have PAOD, your doctor may prescribe medications such as: B. Platelet aggregation inhibitors to ward off heart attacks and strokes and others against high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. You should also make lifestyle changes to relieve your symptoms and keep PAD from getting worse:

Stop smoking. This also includes avoiding other people’s secondhand smoke. Not only can this help alleviate your symptoms, but it can also decrease your chances of further problems.

Go for a walk often. This may seem counter-intuitive if walking is painful, but this is the best exercise you can do to improve your PAD. In fact, the distance you can travel without pain can show how successful your treatment is.

It may not be convenient.

“The goal is not to avoid pain,” says Aday. “It’s about being comfortable with that leg pain, moving to the point where you’re in pain – if you need to rest, that’s fine – but then move on. The big goal is getting bigger [your] Functionality. “

Walking can also help you control PAD risk factors, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Eat healthy food. The same things that are good for your heart, brain, and whole body are also good for curbing PAD. Focus on high fiber foods and avoid salt and saturated fat. This will help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.

Check your feet and wash them every day. Take a close look at each foot. If you see a wound or an injury, see your doctor. This is especially important if you have diabetes, as your body may have a harder time healing injuries and wounds on your lower legs and feet. Less blood flow to these areas makes this recovery process even more difficult, making infection and even amputation more likely.

Source Link

Leave a Reply