Peripheral Arterial Disease

Request Appointment

The human body needs healthy blood circulation to provide the essential nutrients and oxygen cells need to perform their respective biological functions. When a condition like peripheral arterial disease (PAD) impairs blood flow, it can cause a variety of potential, and rather serious, medical issues. Fortunately, making smart lifestyle choices can help keep this from happening to you!

At Premier Podiatry Group, P.C., we sometimes have to provide additional assistance for patients when PAD makes it more difficult for the heart to send oxygenated blood down to the lower limbs. Let’s take a look at why the condition develops and what can be done about it.

PAD Causes

Atherosclerosis is a condition where reduced circulation is caused by fatty deposits (plaques) that have built up over time along the artery walls. This is a major cause of peripheral arterial disease. In many cases, people focus on the heart with this issues, but atherosclerosis affects arteries that run throughout the entire human body. As noted, this is especially problematic when arteries are supposed to carry oxygenated blood to the limbs.

Sometimes, though, PAD is caused by blood vessel inflammation, radiation exposure, limb injury, or sometimes even unusual anatomical structure in a patient’s ligaments or muscles.

Risk Factors

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity (a patient who has a body mass index—BMI—over 30 is at greater risk of developing PAD).
  • High blood pressure (blood pressure greater than 140/90 is considered a “red flag” for PAD).
  • High cholesterol (a total blood cholesterol level greater than 240 milligrams per deciliter increases the risk).

Signs and Symptoms

Unfortunately, many individuals afflicted with PAD either have mild symptoms or do not show any signs of the condition at all. For those who do, they may experience such issues as:

  • Intermittent claudication, which is a painful cramping in the calf, thigh, or hip muscles following physical activities like walking or going up stairs.
  • Either a weak or nonexistent pulse in feet or legs.
  • Leg weakness or numbness.
  • Coldness in either a foot or lower leg, particularly if this is not experienced in the other foot or leg.
  • Sores that do not heal or take a longer than normal time to do so.
  • Slow hair growth, hair loss, or change of color in the legs.
  • Slow toenail growth.

Complications of Peripheral Arterial Disease

Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is chronic condition related to PAD that is marked by severe blockage in the lower extremities’ arteries. This can greatly reduce blood flow and lead to infections, injuries, and sores that do not heal properly. CLI can lead to gangrene (tissue death) and may ultimately require an amputation of an affected limb.

The symptoms of atherosclerosis experienced in your feet and legs can be a warning sign of arterial blockage that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Treating PAD

The main goals of treatment for peripheral arterial disease is stopping the progression of atherosclerosis and managing any present symptoms. These can both be achieved through the use of simple lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, an improved diet, and especially giving up smoking can all help with improving the condition and lowering the risk of complications.

With regards to medical treatment, a patient can benefit from medications that reduce cholesterol, prevent blood clots, manage glucose levels, and decrease blood pressure. In some cases, particularly when intermittent claudication is in the picture, it is necessary to use angioplasty or surgery to treat PAD.

PAD Prevention

Preventing peripheral arterial disease and its symptoms can be accomplished by making healthy lifestyle choices. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet (especially with foods low in saturated fats), exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy bodyweight are essential for reducing the risk of PAD. Individuals who have diabetes need to make sure they keep their glucose levels in a normal range.

PAD Treatment in Ebensburg, PA

Smart lifestyle choices can play a big role in treating and preventing PAD, but you may also need professional care. When that is the case, Premier Podiatry Group, P.C. is here to help. Call our Ebensburg, PA office at (814) 472-2660 for additional information or simply fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.