When present, the most common signs or symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:
- Claudication – A condition that causes causes pain, fatigue, heaviness, tiredness and/or cramping in the legs that gets worse when you walk or climb stairs, but goes away after a short period of rest. Claudication is often under reported by patients because it is assumed to be a natural part of the aging process or due to some other cause.
- Leg Pain – In addition to claudication, patients may experience pain in the legs and/or feet that causes disruption of sleep.
- Non Healing Wounds – Sores or wounds on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all can be a sign of poor blood flow and indicate peripheral arterial disease. These may present as diabetic leg ulcers.
- Changes in Color – Changes in the color of the skin on the toes and/or feet – including paleness or blueness.
- Differences in Temperature – A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg may also be a sign of PAD.
- Poor Nail and/or Hair Growth – Decreased or loss of nail and/or hair growth on the toes or legs could indicate PAD.
Treatment for PAD Can Be Life Saving
Peripheral artery disease is often called a “silent disease”, because many patients don’t experience any symptoms. If you notice any of these signs, or have any of the risk factors for PAD, it is important to seek a specialist for diagnosis. Individuals with PAD are 6X more likely to die of heart attack or stroke compared to those without the disease.
What If I Don’t Get Treatment?
The severity of peripheral artery disease depends greatly on a number of factors including certain risk factors such as smoking, diabetes and age. As PAD progresses, circulation can become so poor that leg/foot pain persists even during periods of rest.
In the most advanced stages of PAD, patients can experience Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI). This is when a severe blockage in the arteries to the legs and feet occurs, depriving the limbs of oxygen rich blood. When left untreated, this condition may progress to the only option being amputation.
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