The leading cause of death in both men and women is cardiovascular disease, and that’s more than just heart attacks. The complex system of arteries, veins, and valves that make up the cardiovascular system need to be taken care of to prevent disease.
What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
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.
PAD symptoms include paleness or blueness in the feet, leg pain that occurs during physical activity that goes away during rest, and sores and reduced hair growth on lower extremities. Sores on the legs often do not heal. Peripheral artery disease puts people at a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and limb loss.
What are 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:
- Smoking: Patients who have a history of smoking or who currently smoke are four times more likely to develop PAD.
- Obesity: Those who are overweight are at a much higher risk of heart disease than those who maintain a normal weight.
- Race: African Americans are twice as likely to have PAD.Diabetes: One in three people over age 50 with diabetes is likely to also have PAD.
- Age: PAD is most common in adults over the age of 50.
- High cholesterol and blood pressure: Cholesterol can contribute to plaque build-up, increasing your risk for developing 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. To get screened for peripheral artery disease, schedule an appointment at one of our multiple locations with our experienced vascular team!