Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (also called peripheral arterial disease) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. Factors that increase your risk of developing peripheral artery disease include:
-Smoking
-Diabetes
-Obesity
(a body mass index over 30)
-High blood pressure (140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher)
-High cholesterol (total blood cholesterol over 240 milligrams per deciliter, or 6.2 millimoles per liter)
-Increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age
-A family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke
-High levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing peripheral artery disease due to reduced blood flow.






Prevent Peripheral Artery Disease!

Peripheral artery disease can be very frustrating, especially when the exercise that will help you get better causes you pain. Don’t get discouraged, however. As you continue exercising, you’ll increase the distance you can walk without pain.
The best way to prevent claudication is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That means:
-Quit smoking if you’re a smoker.
-If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in good control.
-Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes at least three times a week after you’ve gotten your doctor’s OK.
-Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, if applicable.
-Eat foods that are low in saturated fat.
-Maintain a healthy weight.






Take Care of your Leg Pain!

Most leg pain results from wear and tear, overuse, or injuries in joints or bones or in muscles, ligaments, tendons or other soft tissues. Some types of leg pain can be traced to problems in your lower spine. Leg pain can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins or poor circulation.
Call for immediate medical help or go to the emergency room if you:
-Have a leg injury with a deep cut or exposed bone or tendon
-Are unable to walk or put weight on your leg
-Have pain, swelling, redness or warmth in your calf
-Hear a popping or grinding sound at the time of a leg injury
See your doctor as soon as possible if you have:
-Signs of infection, such as redness, warmth or tenderness, or you have a fever greater than100 F (37.8 C)
-A leg that is swollen, pale or unusually cool
-Calf pain, particularly after prolonged sitting (such as a long car trip or plane ride)
-Swelling in both legs along with breathing problems
-Any serious leg symptoms that develop for no apparent reason
Schedule an office visit if:
-You have pain during or after walking
-You have swelling in both legs

-Your pain gets worse
-Your symptoms don’t improve after a few days of home treatment
-You have painful varicose veins






Tests and Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease

Some of the tests your doctor may rely on to diagnose peripheral artery disease are:
-Physical exam. Your doctor may find signs of PAD during a physical examination, such as a weak or absent pulse below a narrowed area of your artery, whooshing sounds (bruits) over your arteries that can be heard with a stethoscope, evidence of poor wound healing in the area where your blood flow is restricted, and decreased blood pressure in your affected limb.
-Ankle-brachial index (ABI). This is a common test used to diagnose PAD. It compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm. To get a blood pressure reading, your doctor uses a regular blood pressure cuff and a special ultrasound device to evaluate blood pressure and flow. You may walk on a treadmill and have readings taken before and immediately after exercising to capture the severity of the narrowed arteries during walking.
-Ultrasound. Special ultrasound imaging techniques, such as Doppler ultrasound, can help your doctor evaluate blood flow through your blood vessels and identify blocked or narrowed arteries.
-Angiography. By injecting a dye (contrast material) into your blood vessels, this test allows your doctor to view blood flow through your arteries as it happens. Your doctor is able to trace the flow of the contrast material using imaging techniques, such as X-ray imaging or procedures called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or computerized tomography angiography (CTA). Catheter angiography is a more invasive procedure that involves guiding a catheter through an artery in your groin to the affected area and injecting the dye that way. Although invasive, this type of angiography allows for simultaneous diagnosis and treatment — finding the narrowed area of a blood vessel and then widening it with an angioplasty procedure or administering medication to improve blood flow.
-Blood tests. A sample of your blood can be used to measure your cholesterol and triglycerides and to check for diabetes.






Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (also called peripheral arterial disease) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities — usually your legs — don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand.
Factors that increase your risk of developing peripheral artery disease include:
-Smoking
-Diabetes
-Obesity (a body mass index over 30)
-High blood pressure (140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher)
-High cholesterol (total blood cholesterol over 240 milligrams per deciliter, or 6.2 millimoles per liter)
-Increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age
-A family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke
-High levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing peripheral artery disease due to reduced blood flow.






Causes of Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease is often caused by atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits (plaques) build up in your artery walls and reduce blood flow.
Although the heart is usually the focus of discussion of atherosclerosis, this disease can and usually does affect arteries throughout your body. When it occurs in the arteries supplying blood to your limbs, it causes peripheral artery disease.
Less commonly, the cause of peripheral artery disease may be blood vessel inflammation, injury to your limbs, unusual anatomy of your ligaments or muscles, or radiation exposure.






Lifestyle and home remedies for PAD

Many people can manage the symptoms of peripheral artery disease and stop the progression of the disease through lifestyle changes, especially quitting smoking.
To stabilize or improve PAD:
Stop smoking. Smoking contributes to constriction and damage of your arteries and is a significant risk factor for the development and worsening of PAD. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. If you’re having trouble quitting on your own, ask your doctor about smoking cessation options, including medications to help you quit.
Exercise. This is a key component. Success in treatment of PAD is often measured by how far you can walk without pain. Proper exercise helps condition your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Your doctor can help you develop an appropriate exercise plan. He or she may refer you to a claudication exercise rehabilitation program.
Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat can help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which contribute to atherosclerosis.
Avoid certain cold medications. Over-the-counter cold remedies that contain pseudoephedrine (Advil Cold & Sinus, Aleve Sinus & Headache, Claritin-D, Sudafed, Tylenol Cold, Zyrtec-D, others) constrict your blood vessels and may increase your PAD symptoms.






Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease

The classic symptoms are pain, achiness, fatigue, burning, or discomfort in the muscles of your feet, calves, or thighs. These symptoms usually appear during walking or exercise and go away after several minutes of rest.
-At first, these symptoms may appear only when you walk uphill, walk faster, or walk for longer distances.
-Slowly, these symptoms come on more quickly and with less exercise.
Your legs or feet may feel numb when you are at rest. The legs also may feel cool to the touch, and the skin may look pale.
When peripheral artery disease becomes severe, you may have:
-Impotence
-Pain and cramps
at night
-Pain or tingling in the feet or toes, which can be so severe that even the weight of clothes or bed sheets is painful
-Pain that is worse when you raise the leg and improves when you dangle your legs over the side of the bed
-Skin that looks dark and blue
-Sores that do not heal






How to Know that you’re Suffering from PAD?

While many people with peripheral artery disease have mild or no symptoms, some people have leg pain when walking (intermittent claudication).
Intermittent claudication symptoms include muscle pain or cramping in your legs or arms that’s triggered by activity, such as walking, but disappears after a few minutes of rest. The location of the pain depends on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery. Calf pain is the most common location.

Peripheral artery disease symptoms include:
-Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after activity, such as walking or climbing stairs
-Leg numbness or weakness
-Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
-Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
-A change in the color of your legs
-Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
-Slower growth of your toenails
Shiny skin on your legs
-No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
-Erectile dysfunction in men






Coping with Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease can be very frustrating, especially when the exercise that will help you get better causes you pain. Don’t get discouraged, however. As you continue exercising, you’ll increase the distance you can walk without pain.
You may find it helpful to raise the head of your bed by four to six inches (10 to 15 centimeters), because keeping your legs below the level of your heart usually lessens pain.
Another tip for reducing your symptoms is to avoid cold temperatures as much as possible. If you can’t avoid the cold, be sure to dress in warm layers.
Alternative remedies for PAD- The blood-thinning effects of ginkgo may allow people with intermittent claudication to walk longer distances with less pain. However, this herbal remedy can cause bleeding when taken in high doses, and it could be dangerous if paired with anti-platelet medications, including aspirin, which are commonly prescribed to people with PAD. Talk to your doctor before you consider taking ginkgo for relief from leg pain.