Cardiovascular disease affects hundreds of millions of people in the United States, and it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. This disease goes beyond the heart to include veins and arteries that carry blood throughout your entire body.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), also commonly referred to as atherosclerosis, is a vascular disease in which arteries in the legs are hardened or narrowed, or even blocked, by plaque in the arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, calcium, cholesterol, and fibrous tissue. Over time, plaque can build up in the artery walls and restrict blood flow.
Symptoms of PAD include leg pain during physical activity that goes away during rest, paleness or blueness in the skin of the feet, reduced hair growth on toes or legs, and sores on the lower extremities that do not heal. Peripheral artery disease puts patients at a high risk of stroke, heart attack, and limb loss.
Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease
Since PAD is a form of cardiovascular disease, the conditions which are associated with heart health are associated with PAD. Some of these risk factors include:
- Age: PAD is most common in adults over the age of 50.
- Race: African Americans are twice as likely to have PAD.
- Obesity: Those who are overweight are at a much higher risk of heart disease than those who maintain a normal weight.
- Diabetes: One in three people over age 50 with diabetes is likely to also have PAD.
- High cholesterol and blood pressure: Cholesterol can contribute to plaque build-up, increasing your risk for developing PAD.
- Smoking: Patients who have a history of smoking or who currently smoke are four times more likely to develop PAD.
Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the first line of defense against PAD. This includes keeping cholesterol at the appropriate levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercise.
The Center for Vascular Medicine is leading the field of vascular disease, providing comprehensive screening, diagnosis and treatment options. Our talented physicians and clinicians are highly trained to treat all types of vascular disease. If a vascular disease is left untreated, more serious medical concerns can develop. If you would like to be screened for vascular disease, Schedule an appointment at one of our multiple locations with our experienced vascular team!