Yakima Heart Center

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Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

The following information contains excerpts from the website cardiosmart.org which we recommend as a resource for more information regarding heart disease.


WHAT IS IT?

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when a fatty material called plaque builds up on the inside walls of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the head, internal organs, and limbs.

Also Known As: Atherosclerotic Peripheral Arterial Disease, Arm Artery Disease, Circulation Problems, Leg Artery Disease

BASIC FACTS

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when a fatty material called plaque builds up on the inside walls of the arteries that carry blood to the limbs.
 It can impair physical health and diminish a person's ability to walk.  PAD is a is a common, yet serious disease affecting 8 to 12 million people in the United States.  An estimated 5 percent of U.S. adults over age 50 have PAD. Among adults age 65 and older, 12 to 20 percent may have PAD.


People with PAD have an increased risk for heart attack.
Early diagnosis and treatment of PAD are important to prevent disability and save lives.


 CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS

  • Smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing PAD three to five times. On average, smokers who develop PAD experience symptoms 10 years earlier than nonsmokers who develop PAD.
  • Diabetes. One in three people over age 50 with diabetes is likely to have PAD. Anyone over age 50 with diabetes should be screened for PAD.
  • Other diseases and conditions, such as:
    • Kidney disease
    • High blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure
    • A high cholesterol level or a family history of high cholesterol
    • Heart disease or a family history of heart disease
    • A family history of stroke
    • Age. Men who are older than age 50 and women who are older than age 55 are at higher risk for PAD.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

At least half of the people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) don't have any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Other signs and symptoms of PAD include:

  • Pain, numbness, aching, and heaviness in the muscles
  • Cramping in the legs, thighs, calves, and feet
  • A weak or absent pulse in the legs or feet
  • Sores or wounds on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
  • Color changes in skin, paleness, or blueness (called cyanosis)
  • A decreased temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs
  • Erectile dysfunction, especially among people with diabetes
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