The first thing we want you to know about peripheral artery disease (PAD) is that it’s fairly common — PAD affects between 8 and 12 million people in the United States, though this number might be on the low side.
Given this high prevalence, the team of heart health experts here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists feels it’s important to spend a little time discussing PAD. LIke most cardiovascular issues, PAD can place you firmly on the road to more serious heart disease, so it's well worth learning what you can about the condition.
Rather than taking a deep dive on your own, we’re presenting three things that we want you to know about PAD here.
1. A blockage in your blood vessels
Your peripheral arteries are those that carry blood away from your heart to deliver oxygen to your body. With PAD, some of these blood vessels have developed atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the blood vessels because of plaque buildup.
As you might imagine, when your arteries narrow, blood can have a tougher time getting through. In a majority of cases, PAD affects your lower limbs, and in about 10% of cases, the upper extremities (arms and hands) are affected.
With lower-extremity PAD, you can feel cramping in your legs, as well as fatigue, but about four out of 10 people with PAD don’t feel any leg pain, making the disease tricky to diagnose.
2. The dangers of PAD
Since PAD affects the flow of blood in your body, complications can and do arise. We have two primary concerns when it comes to PAD, starting with your risks for more serious heart disease, namely heart attack and stroke.
Our other concern is that with the lack of good blood flow to your lower extremities, your risks for infection, gangrene, and amputation are greatly increased. Your blood is the primary delivery method for healing resources, and if those resources can’t reach your lower limbs and feet, even a small cut can become a major problem.
3. Your risks for PAD
When it comes to risk factors for PAD, which develops over years and years, there are many, including:
- Smoking — 80% of people with PAD either smoke or used to smoke
- Having diabetes
- Lack of exercise
- Having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
- Being African American
This list contains some good news in the fact that many of these conditions are reversible with a healthy lifestyle.
We want to end this blog with a note about treatments for PAD, of which we offer several. If your PAD has become advanced, rest assured, you’re in good hands with us. We can address PAD in one of many ways, including:
- Angioplasty and stenting to open up your artery
- Atherectomy to remove plaque buildup
- Bypass surgery, which reroutes blood flow around the blockage
If you have more questions about PAD, we invite you to contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up a consultation.