illustration of arteries and veins in the legs and feetPeripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that primarily affects people with certain health conditions, including individuals with diabetes and atherosclerosis. PAD causes a narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs and can end up having serious repercussions, including diabetic and ischemic ulcers, severe infection, amputation, and even death. In fact, when PAD remains untreated, it has a one in three five-year fatality rate. This is why it is so important to know the symptoms and seek immediate help if you think you might have PAD.

How Do You Know If You Have Peripheral Artery Disease?

PAD is a condition that gradually reduces blood and oxygen flow to the legs and feet. In most instances, a very slow build-up of plaque is the cause. The more plaque build-up there is, the less space there is for blood to flow, leading to serious peril for the lower extremities. PAD can be a silent killer. Up to 40% of people with PAD don’t develop severe symptoms. This means your health could be at serious risk without you even knowing.

While some people don’t experience obvious symptoms, others experience the following:

  • Frequent pain or cramping in the legs, hips, calf, or thighs, which is exacerbated by exercise
  • Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that won’t easily heal
  • Muscle weakness
  • A sensation of cold, tingling, or numbness in the legs
  • Slow hair growth on the legs
  • Skin that changes color

Anyone can develop PAD, but it is much more common in individuals with the following risk factors:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Over 60 years old

The Importance of Getting Medical Help

If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of PAD, it is important to connect with a podiatrist as soon as possible. You should consider getting regular testing for PAD if you struggle with any of the above or if you are:

  • Over 65, no matter your medical history
  • Aged 50-64 with one PAD risk factor
  • Experiencing even a single PAD symptom

PAD can be dangerous (and even fatal), but visiting a podiatrist gives you a fighting chance. At InStride Carolina Podiatry Group, we can intercept PAD before it becomes a serious matter, thanks to a variety of simple tests and solutions available. These include:

  • Lab testing that gives a quick diagnosis
  • Guidance through lifestyle changes such as weight management and exercise plans
  • Custom orthotics and/or medications
  • Advanced wound healing services

If you are at risk for PAD or feel you might be exhibiting symptoms of this dangerous disease, consider calling us right away at 803-285-1411 or connecting through our website.

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