Author: Ajay Mhatre, M.D., FACC
PAD is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. for adults over the age of 50. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that one in 20 people in this age group has PAD, which raises risk for both heart attack and stroke. If you aren’t familiar with PAD, you’re not alone. Despite its prevalence, many educated patients remain unaware of this chronic disease.
PAD occurs when the peripheral (that is to say, legs and, sometimes, arms) become blocked with plaque. PAD is like having heart disease, but in your legs or arms (as opposed to the arteries near your heart). As plaque thickens and the buildup hardens, it is more difficult for the heart to pump blood through these arteries. As a result, feet and legs may not get enough oxygen-rich blood, leaving the patient susceptible to injuries that may be difficult to recover from.
PAD can also cause a condition known as “intermittent claudication,” which refers to pain or cramping in the leg because of limited oxygen in the blood. Intermittent claudication causes limited mobility in many patients, which can further worsen the condition.
#1 “My legs look more veiny than they used to. Am I developing PAD?”
Varicose veins are a common symptom of peripheral artery disease. While they may indicate PAD, this is not always the case. Many women may develop varicose veins while pregnant, but these usually resolve on their own after delivery. Also, many patients confuse varicose veins with spider veins. Spider veins appear on the surface, and are not an indicator of PAD. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure if you have PAD is to see your physician for an evaluation and diagnosis.
#2 “How do I know if I’m at risk for PAD?”
Patients who identify with the following statements are at the greatest risk for PAD:
- I am over the age of 70.
- I am over the age of 50, and have a history of smoking and/or diabetes.
- I’m under the age of 50, have a history of smoking and/or diabetes, AND have a BMI over 30 or have high cholesterol or do not exercise regularly or have a family history of PAD, stroke, or heart disease.
Take the PAD Risk Assessment
#3 “Will these varicose veins ever go away?”
Treatments are available for varicose veins, and today’s technology has allowed for a number of minimally invasive options. Varicose veins, however, will not resolve on their own. For more information about PAD, varicose veins and PAD treatment in Phoenix, please contact us.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.