Peripheral artery disease is also called peripheral arterial disease which is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to our limbs.
When we develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), our extremities are usually our legs or do not receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. This causes symptoms like leg pain when walking known as claudication.
Peripheral artery disease is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in our arteries known as atherosclerosis. This condition can be reducing blood flow to our heart and brain as well as our legs.
While many people with the peripheral artery disease have mild or no symptoms, and some people have leg pain when walking i.e. claudication.
Claudication symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in our legs or arms that triggered by activity such as walking but disappears after a few minutes of resting. The location of the pain depends on the area of clogged or narrowed artery. Calf pain is most common location. Peripheral artery disease symptoms may include:
Painful cramping in our hip, thigh or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs
Coldness in our lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
Sores on our toes, feet or legs that do not heal
A change in the color of our legs
Hair loss or slower hair growth on our feet and legs
Slower growth of our toenails
Shiny skin on our legs
No pulse or a weak pulse in our legs or feet
Erectile dysfunction in the men
Peripheral artery disease is often caused by atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, a fatty deposit known as plaques build up in our artery walls and reduces blood flow.
Although the heart is usually the focus of discussion for atherosclerosis, this disease may and usually does affect arteries throughout our body. When it occurs the arteries supplying blood to our limbs resulting to peripheral artery disease.
Less commonly, the cause of peripheral artery disease may be blood vessel inflammation, injury to our limbs, unusual anatomy of our ligaments or muscles, or radiation exposure.
Factors that increase our risk of developing peripheral artery disease include:
Obesity i.e. a body mass index over 30
High blood pressure rate
High cholesterol level
Increasing age especially after reaching 50 years of age
A family history of having peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke
High levels of homocysteine i.e. a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
So people who smoke or have diabetes are likely to have the greatest risk of developing peripheral artery disease due to reduction in the blood flow
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