What you need to know about Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a common circulatory condition that restricts blood flow to your limbs. While it can be treated, it can also be confused or mistaken for other conditions and often goes undiagnosed, which can lead to serious complications. Interventional Cardiologist Sandeep Sehgal, M.D., discusses the 5 W’S of PAD - the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE AND WHY – and how it can put you at risk for heart attack, stroke and other dangerous conditions.
What is PAD?
“Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head, but it is most commonly found in the arteries in the legs,” explained Dr. Sehgal. “Many people dismiss the most common symptoms of PAD – cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles that occurs when walking or climbing stairs – as normal signs of aging. Sometimes patients think it’s arthritis, stiff muscles or neuropathy,” Dr. Sehgal shared. “But PAD is much more serious and needs medical attention.”
Why does PAD Matter?
PAD occurs when fatty deposits build up in the arteries that supply fresh oxygen and blood to the arms, legs and feet. “It is a very dangerous condition, because the blockages can restrict circulation to the limbs, organs and brain, and it may be the first warning sign of coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis.” Fatty deposits in the arteries impact the entire circulatory system and increase the risk for vascular inflammation and blood clots that can block the blood supply and cause tissue to die and result in infections such as gangrene, or the death of body tissue due to the lack of blood flow.
Who is at Risk for PAD?
Dr. Sehgal explained that there are certain risk factors such as aging, personal or family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke that can’t be controlled. He also said that people with these conditions should be vigilant in watching for signs of PAD. “While people can’t control all of their risk factors,” said Dr. Sehgal, “there are certain factors that can be managed.” Dr. Sehgal shared the following controllable risk factors.
• High Cholesterol
• High Blood Pressure