Your arteries carry blood rich in oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest
of your body. When the arteries in your legs become blocked, your legs do not receive
enough blood or oxygen. This results in PAD.
You are more likely to develop PAD as you age. One in 3 people over the age of 70 have PAD. Smoking or having diabetes increases your chances of developing the disease sooner. Other contributing factors to PAD are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
You may be experiencing pain or discomfort when you walk. The pain can occur in your hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, shins or upper feet. You may not feel any symptoms from PAD at first. As PAD worsens you may experience pains in your feet and toes even when you are not walking. In severe cases of PAD, you may develop painful sores on your toes or feet. If the circulation in your leg does not improve the sores can become dead tissue (called gangrene).
Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside but, as you age, they can become blocked. A sticky substance called plaque can build up on the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue. As more plaque builds up, your arteries narrow and stiffen. Eventually enough plaque builds up to reduce blood flow to your leg arteries. When this happens your leg does not receive the oxygen it needs. This is called PAD. It is important to treat this disease not only because it may place you at a greater risk for limb loss but also for having a heart attack or stroke.
There are several things you can do to improve your condition. First and foremost, if you are a smoker-
on a medication to reduce blood clotting to minimize the chances of clots blocking your narrowed arteries.
In more severe cases simple lifestyle changes and medication may not be enough to improve your symptoms. In some instances minimal surgical intervention may be required. The choice of treatment depends on the extent of the blockages. If you are in an advanced stage of PAD these options will be discussed with you.
Whether you have been diagnosed as having PAD or not here are some
important and easy ways to stay healthy:
Lower high LDL cholesterol
Lower high blood pressure
Maintain your ideal body weight
Manage diabetes by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels
Eat foods low in saturated fats and calories
Exercise and walk regularly