Recognizing the Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a circulatory disorder that results when fatty substances, such as cholesterol, accumulate in the arteries, causing them to narrow. The condition — which affects about 6.5 million Americans — can cause leg and foot problems. 

At Premier Foot & Ankle, our expert clinicians have years of experience diagnosing and treating patients who have peripheral artery disease. In this blog, we discuss some of the symptoms of PAD and how the condition can be treated.

PAD can put you in peril

Though cholesterol is most widely associated with heart disease and stroke, it’s also a major player in the development of peripheral artery disease. 

If fatty substances, such as cholesterol, build up in your legs’ arteries, the flow of blood to your legs and feet will be delayed. Your body needs a healthy supply of oxygenated blood in order to work properly. However, PAD can hinder the flow of blood and thus reduce your body's ability to function well.

Furthermore, common foot problems, such as bunions and ingrown toenails, can be amplified if you have PAD. Normal blood flow is vital in healing injured parts of the foot. If blood flow is hindered, it could lead to infection and even amputation. 

The symptoms of PAD

There are a number of symptoms that can manifest with PAD, including the following:

You may also notice a change in the thickness and color of your toenails, a cold feeling in your legs and feet, and the presence of sores that don’t heal. Some patients can develop a shine to the skin on their legs, experience erectile dysfunction if they’re male, and notice slowed toenail growth. 

Those most at risk for developing PAD

You’re at a higher risk for developing PAD if you:

Additionally, if you or your family has a history of PAD, stroke, heart disease, or heart attack, you may be more at risk for developing the condition.

How a PAD diagnosis is made

If you or your doctor thinks you may have PAD, there are several tests that can help determine if you have the condition. One common method is vascular testing, which is quick and noninvasive.

During this test, your doctor fits you with blood pressure cuffs on your arms and lower legs to compare your ankle-brachial index (ABI). If your ankle reading is significantly lower than your arm reading, it suggests PAD.

Your provider may also perform a pulse volume recording (PVR) test to help determine if your blood flow is limited, and if it is, by how much. Through these tests, your provider can determine if you have PAD.

Treating PAD

If you’re diagnosed with PAD, your doctor may go over a number of treatment options, including the following:

It’s important to remember that once diagnosed with PAD, you must be diligent about getting checkups and visiting with us, so we can ensure that your circulation problems remain well-managed. Your podiatrist is a critical link in preventing, diagnosing, and treating PAD.

If you notice any signs of PAD, don’t delay in seeking care. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Premier Foot & Ankle today.

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