Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month
What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral artery disease occurs when narrowed arteries reduce the blood flow to your limbs, especially your legs. It is a common sign of atherosclerosis (narrowing or hardening of the arteries) in other parts of the body. That can mean that you’re at a higher risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
- Many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else.
- PAD often goes undiagnosed by healthcare professionals.
- People with peripheral arterial disease have a much higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation
Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Older than age 60
- Men and women are equally affected by PAD; however, black race/ethnicity is associated with an increased risk of PAD. People of Hispanic origin may have similar to slightly higher rates of PAD compared to non-Hispanic whites.
Symptoms and Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease
The most common symptoms of PAD involving the lower extremities are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and returns when you walk again.
Other signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:
- Numbness, achiness, or heaviness in your leg muscles when walking or climbing stairs
- Weak or absent pulses in your legs or feet
- Sores or wounds on your toes, feet or legs that heal poorly or not at all
- Skin on your legs that is shiny, pale or bluish
- A lower temperature in one leg than the other leg
- Poor toenail growth and decreased hair growth on your legs
- Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes
Diagnosing Peripheral Artery Disease at UNC REX Healthcare
We have a full range of diagnostic tools and techniques for determining whether you have peripheral artery disease. Your physician may recommend any of the following tests:
Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment at UNC REX Healthcare
Surgery for peripheral artery disease restores blood flow to your limbs, a process called revascularization. We offer several surgical treatment options, including:
- Femoral endarterectomy
- Lower extremity bypass
- Angioplasty and stenting
Managing Peripheral Artery Disease at UNC REX Healthcare
If your doctor does not believe surgery is necessary to minimize your risk for heart attack or stroke, he or she may recommend one or more of the following:
- Medications that lower cholesterol or prevent blood clots
- Diabetes management
- Lifestyle change, such as quitting smoking
- Exercise programs
- Regular follow-up care to monitor your condition
Take an online PAD Aware assessment to discover your odds of developing peripheral artery disease. You’ll find out if you qualify for a free in-person medical screening and consultation.
To find a UNC REX Healthcare physician near you, call 919-784-4490.