Peripheral Artery Disease
There are times when one issue in your body can be a precursor to an even more serious medical problem. This is the case with a condition known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Understanding PAD, and how it affects your lower limbs, is instrumental for driving positive lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of critical complications. If you recognize any of the symptoms we discuss, be sure to contact Capital District Podiatry so we can provide the care you need!
Peripheral Arterial Disease
PAD is actually quite common and involves poor circulation in your limbs as a result of narrowed arteries. This is significant for your foot and ankle health, since they are the farthest points from the heart. In many cases, the disease is present throughout your body, with widespread atherosclerosis (fatty material buildup in the arteries) that narrows blood vessels. The odds of heart attacks and strokes increase due to reduced circulation in vital areas like your heart and brain.
Symptoms of PAD
It needs to be noted that many individuals afflicted with this condition exhibit no symptoms at all. If you do, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Doing so improves the odds of successful treatment and decreases the risk of a serious medical problem.
Observable symptoms of peripheral arterial disease include:
- Leg pain or cramping either from physical activity (intermittent claudication) or while you are lying down or at rest (ischemic rest pain). Ischemic rest pain can be severe enough to disrupt your sleep.
- Coldness, weakness, or numbness in your foot or lower leg, especially when compared to your other side.
- Sores on your legs, feet, or toes that will not heal or take an abnormally long time to do so.
- Slower hair growth than normal, or even hair loss, on your legs and feet.
- Shiny skin or abnormal coloration on your legs.
It is quite possible to manage this condition and stop its progression through the use of healthy lifestyle changes, including:
- Diet. What you eat can contribute to the condition, but it can also be an integral part of fighting back against it. A diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals and low in saturated fat will help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check.
- Exercise. Physical activity plays an instrumental role in forcing your muscles to use oxygen in an efficient manner and promoting healthy circulation.
- Quit smoking. Smoking contributes to damaged and constricted arteries, which can worsen the symptoms of PAD. Experts agree that this is the best step for reducing the risk of complications from this disease.
Lifestyle changes can certainly help, especially for mild or early cases of PAD, but there are cases where professional intervention is necessary. When this is the case, medication, angioplasty and surgery all become treatment options.
Medication is typically targeted at lowering cholesterol, managing blood sugar, decreasing high blood pressure, and preventing blood clots. There are also medications intended to tackle various symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. Angioplasty is essentially the use of a small balloon to reopen an artery and push the blockage back into the artery wall.
The best prevention methods are much the same as treatments: healthy living including exercising on a regular basis, keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low, and quitting smoking (which is just a fantastic idea in general). Since food can play a role in this condition, avoid meals that have copious amounts of saturated fats. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight goes hand-in-hand with what you eat, and can also decrease your odds of having to deal with PAD.
When PAD Affects Your Lower Limbs
When you recognize the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease in your lower limbs, be sure to contact us for professional diagnosis and any necessary treatment. Keep in mind that doing so will lower your risk for suffering from a serious medical condition like a heart attack or stroke. Give us a call at (518) 273-0053 and we can provide additional information or assist you in scheduling an appointment at either our Clifton Park or Troy, NY offices. You can also make an appointment with either Capital District Podiatry location online today.