The Silent Killer – What you need to know about Peripheral Arterial Disease

The Silent Killer – What you need to know about Peripheral Arterial Disease

Last Reviewed : 01/07/2021

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is the narrowing of peripheral arteries that lead to the legs, arms, stomach and head. The narrowing occurs because of the buildup of plaque within the arteries, which reduces blood flow. This disease is most commonly found in the legs and if left untreated can lead to ischemic rest pain, ulcers, gangrene, and ultimately, amputations. Patients with PAD are also at increased risk of having coronary artery disease and carotid artery stenosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Symptoms of PAD,

  • Pain when walking
  • Increased fatigue and tiredness
  • Increased cramping in lower extremities
  • Decreased desire to walk or exercise due to pain

Unfortunately, in its early stages, carotid artery disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms often do not produce any signs or symptoms. These conditions may go unnoticed until they are serious, or possibly even deadly. That’s why vascular screenings, which don’t require needles or invasive testing, are a good idea for those who are at risk.

Lifestyle choices and other conditions that can increase your risk for PAD. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Increasing age
  • Family history of heart disease or stroke
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity

These factors significantly increase your risk for PAD and should be regularly tested and monitored.

Screenings to detect PAD,

Ultrasound is used to examine your carotid arteries, abdominal aorta and peripheral arteries in your ankles.

Some individuals can manage PAD with simple lifestyle changes. By eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly, PAD may become more manageable. Medications may be prescribed to:

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Control blood sugar
  • Prevent blood clots
  • Relieve symptoms

In some more severe cases, vascular specialists may recommend treatment. Fortunately, vascular procedures have become much less invasive than in the past.


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