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Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a circulatory issue commonly diagnosed by foot specialists that primarily affects people's legs. Because its symptoms crossover with other common ailments, this serious condition can go undiagnosed during its early stages. Unfortunately, it’s linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular complications and, if left untreated, can lead to an amputation. While it’s important to seek professional medical advice if you’re concerned about current symptoms, this guide can help you understand the basics of this condition.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Although anyone can develop PAD, it’s more common in people over 50 who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Other conditions linked to a higher risk of PAD include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or a history of smoking. According to the CDC, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be affected than others. 

What Are the Signs & Symptoms?

Physically, people with PAD report pain in the legs and feet. This can occur anywhere from the thighs down to the toes. Physical activity makes this pain increase while resting or sitting provide relief. PAD can also cause tingling, numbness, and a general sense of fatigue. 

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Visually, a limb with the narrowed blood vessels that cause PAD may appear blue or pale. Sores will heal slowly, or not at all. The skin becomes shiny and may swell. Hair and nail growth in the area slows. 

Not everyone with circulatory issues will experience these symptoms. Since they start out as minor inconveniences, people sometimes dismiss them as the natural aches and pains of aging. Diabetics and other high-risk people are encouraged to regularly visit a foot specialist to request a non-invasive screening test, known as an ABI, that measures blood pressure in the limbs.

What Are Some Treatment & Prevention Tips?

Once PAD has been diagnosed, doctors use a mixture of lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery to treat the condition. Lifestyle changes may include stopping smoking, dietary adjustments, and regular exercise. These steps can also lower the risk of developing PAD. 

Anti-clotting and blood-pressure-lowering prescriptions are used to control blood flow and reduce the risk of arterial clogs. If the disease is diagnosed early enough, these treatments may reverse it and prevent the need for surgery. If the condition isn’t caught until after the arteries are badly constricted, surgery may be required to remove the built-up plaque and restore blood flow. 

 

If you’re concerned you may be developing PAD, reach out to Dr. Eric D. Trattner. Serving the Cleveland, OH, area, this skilled podiatrist provides support for any conditions that affect the feet or ankles. Using a non-invasive, painless screening test, he can help you evaluate current risks while his friendly staff and the relaxed office atmosphere work to make the exam both comfortable and educational. Call (440) 333-5350 to book an appointment today or learn more about this foot specialist’s range of care services online. 

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