What is PAD?
PAD stands for Peripheral Arterial Disease. This disease is characterized by the build of plaque in the arteries over time.
The reason this is dangerous is because when the plaque hardens there is limited (oxygenated) blood flow to vital organs.
PAD most often occurs in the arteries in the legs, but will also affect other arteries that carry blood outside the heart, including the arteries that feed the aorta, brain, kidneys, arms and stomach.
When arteries inside the heart become hardened this is known as coronary artery disease, or cardiovascular disease.
The good news is that PAD is infinitely treatable and can be addressed very effectively by initiating changes in ones lifestyle, eating habits and exercise.
Pharmacologically, PAD is also treated with medications and surgery.
People can live healthy and well even with PAD.
Who is Affected and Who is at Risk for PAD?
PAD affects millions of Americans over the age of 50.
While the chances of having PAD will increase as we get older, the fact is, regardless of age, one will be at considerable risk when living an unhealthy and reckless lifestyle.
This includes those who:
- Have high blood pressure
- Have excessively high cholesterol levels
Of course, some folks are also genetically pre-disposed to a higher risk of disease, including:
- Those of African American ethnicity
- Those who have had a heart attack or stroke in their past
- Those with a family history of PAD or Cardiovascular disease
What are the Symptoms of PAD?
PAD develops slowly and usually over a period of years. In the onset of the disease, people don’t typically experience any symptoms and it is only much later when the clogged arteries are already restricting blood flow that pain will present itself.
Actual symptoms include fatigue, tiredness, pain in the legs, thighs and buttocks, foot and toe pain and wounds and ulcers.
How to Test for PAD
The most common test for PAD is called the ABI, which stands for ankle-brachial index.
ABI employs sound waves to test for reduced blood flow in the arteries and compares blood pressure along several main arterial regions to compare and contrast for proper diagnosis.
If you feel you may be at risk for PAD and certainly if you experience symptoms of the disease, contact your doctor immediately.