Narrow arteries cannot carry sufficient blood throughout the body, including your legs and arms. The result is experiencing cramps when you are moving, which disappear when you rest. That is a telltale sign that you may be suffering from a condition known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
About 6.5 million individuals aged 40 years and older in the U.S. suffer from PAD. Additionally, PAD symptoms can mimic other disorders and health conditions.
PAD symptoms tend to be gradual in the onset and increase as the blockage of the arteries gets worse.
Below are some of the PAD symptoms that affect the legs.
- Lack of hair growth on the legs.
- Numbness in the affected extremity or loss of sensation.
- Sores on your lower legs or feet that are slow or non-healing.
- Muscle cramp pain that gets worse with activity.
Discomfort resulting from PAD does not occur in joints but rather in muscles, and you may develop symptoms in one or both thighs, hips, and/or calves. Reduced blood flow can also lead to ulcers and eventually amputation.
The issues that cause PAD are similar to those that lead to coronary artery disease (CAD), and both conditions are linked to atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty plaque and blockages in the arteries). Some of the factors that increase your risk of developing PAD include:
- High cholesterol – The natural wax-like fat known as cholesterol aids various functions in the body. However, excess cholesterol in your blood can lead to the development of PAD.
- Smoking – Smoking poses multiple health risks including: heart disease, lung disease particularly cancers and PAD.
- Hypertension – Can put strain on the arteries in your arms and legs if left untreated. This can lead to hardening of your arteries and speed up the process of plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Diabetes – Controlling your blood sugar when you have diabetes is not an option. Failure to do so can damage the walls of your arteries, which may make it easier for plaque to build up.
- Renal failure
Treating Peripheral Artery Disease
Opening blocked or narrowed peripheral arteries is possible through minimally invasive options including: balloon angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy.
This entails inserting a needle into your artery, injecting contrast and obtaining X-rays of your arteries (an angiogram) and opening the blockage with a special device called an angioplasty balloon and or stent. Angioplasty involves inflating a balloon to open the blocked artery for blood to begin flowing normally again. If necessary, stenting takes place at this point. There have been many advances in technology for treating PAD, in recent years, giving patients many excellent options in the hands of the right vascular specialist.
Stenting ensures a weakened artery remains open. The composition of a stent is a tube-shaped wire mesh that is open on both ends. A stent reinforces blood vessel walls at an area of the previous blockage. Although stenting and balloon angioplasty are outpatient procedures, you can expect to remain under medical observation for a few hours after the procedure.
Identifying PAD Risk Factors
Discovering that you have PAD may not be possible until your arteries get damaged, yet it is a serious condition. Also, PAD is closely linked to other dangerous chronic conditions. For that reason, knowing and managing your risks is paramount because it can help you avoid PAD. Note that the arteries in your neck that supply blood to your brain are carotid arteries, and the ones around your heart are coronary arteries.
Others are your peripheral arteries, which are PAD targets. Undoubtedly, PAD can affect other arteries, although it is most common in those that go to your feet and legs. Once plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries, it causes PAD to occur. With time, plaque causes your arteries to become narrow and stiff, which means that blood flow through them will be difficult.
Atherosclerosis is the term used to refer to the narrowing and stiffness of your arteries. It is a condition that can lead to serious health issues. For instance, if you have PAD, there is a high possibility that you have plaque buildup in your coronary arteries. When that is the case, you are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Also, it is interesting to note that it is possible to have PAD and not have any symptoms. Claudication or leg pain is the most common symptom in this case, but there are others, including;
- Change of color in your legs.
- Leg weakness or numbness.
- Cold limbs.
- Ulcers on your feet or toes.
Contact Beach Wellness MD
If you’re concerned you may be suffering from PAD, contact Beach Wellness MD for help. We are conveniently located in Los Angeles on San Vicente Blvd and open 9-5 Monday through Friday and Saturday by appointment only. Call us now at 310-620-1851 for more information.
ABOUT DR. ALI GOLSHAN
Ali Golshan, MD, is a double board-certified leading vascular expert who specializes in in-office, minimally-invasive interventional radiology treatments at Beach Wellness MD. Dr. Golshan devotes personalized attention to each patient to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Dr. Golshan graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology. He then earned a Master of Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a Doctorate of Medicine from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Golshan completed a residency in radiology at UCLA and a fellowship in interventional radiology at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.