Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is also referred to as peripheral vascular disease or atherosclerosis. PAD occurs when a buildup of plaque deposits in the coronary artery causes the blood vessels to narrow or block entirely.
Many people with PAD experience no symptoms; those who do, however, often report fatigue or cramping in the calf, thigh, hip, or buttocks.
It is not unusual to experience pain in the toes or feet while resting. This is a sign of an advancing case of PAD. Physical symptoms in the leg that may indicate PAD include hair loss, skin cold to the touch, decreased or absent pulses in the feet, wounds that won’t heal, discoloration of the extremities, and gangrene.
The treatment for PAD concentrates on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression of the disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise, and claudication medications are enough to slow PAD progression. In some cases, these fixes are enough to reverse the symptoms altogether.
- Regular physical activity. This is often the most effective treatment. Your doctor will recommend a supervised exercise program to decrease the symptoms of PAD.
- Healthy diet. Eat foods that are low in saturated fat to help reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Smoking cessation.Avoid tobacco use. If you smoke, ask your vascular surgeon to recommend a cessation program that will work for you.
- Some medications. Your doctor may recommend that you take aspirin or similar anti-platelet medicine to prevent serious complications from PAD. You may also be required to take medication to reduce your blood pressure and/or cholesterol.
If you are suffering from leg discomfort or have questions about peripheral artery disease, talk to one of our providers about treatment options today.