If you take a look at the middle word of “peripheral arterial disease,” you get a hint of the body part affected: your arteries. Specifically, it means the arteries at the periphery of your body – the parts furthest away from the heart, especially in your lower leg, ankle, and foot. When fatty deposits called plaque build up in these arteries, blood has a hard time flowing into your lower limbs.
Causes of PAD
The buildup of plaque in your peripheral arteries can be attributed to a number of factors, including:
- age – your risk increases after age 50
- a diet rich in fatty foods
- cigarette smoking
- high blood pressure
- lack of physical activity
The warning signs
So what are the signs of peripheral arterial disease – commonly known as PAD? You might suspect you have it if:
- you have trouble walking
- your legs often feel tired or numb
- you have painful cramps in your legs while exercising
- pain subsides while you’re at rest
- your toenails have slowed down their growth
- your feet feel cooler than the rest of your legs
- it takes a couple of weeks or more for cuts on your foot to heal
Pay attention to these warning signs
You may be tempted to chalk up pain in your legs as just another sign of a hard workout or a normal part of the aging process. But it isn’t safe to ignore these kinds of symptoms. PAD increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. If you can identify with some of the risk factors listed above, talk to your doctor about getting screened for PAD.
If you live in Cuyahoga County, you can obtain regular PAD screenings from foot specialists Craig B. Frey, DPM and Megan L. Oltmann, DPM at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland. We treat all disorders of the feet, toes, and ankles at our state-of-the-art podiatry office, located in Solon, Ohio. We invite you to visit our website, contact us online, or give us a call to make an appointment at (440) 903 1041.