September Is PAD Awareness Month. Know The Signs!
The lazy days of summer are over, and it’s time to gear up for winter. This is why September is often referred to as a month to refocus energy.
It’s the perfect time of year to use as an annual reminder to take stock of our wellbeing and focus on health issues that impact us as we age. Why concentrate on aging? Well, if you compare the stages of your life to the months of the year, September would be considered middle age, so it makes sense.
One of the conditions whose risk increases in our “Septembers” is peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Conservative estimates suggest 15 percent of the global population over the age of 50 have undiagnosed PAD. Millions of patients in the U.S. are suffering from PAD without knowing.
What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a serious and often silent health problem. It is a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis. This condition narrows your arteries and reduces blood flow to your limbs, making it difficult to receive enough blood to meet your body’s demand. This reduced blood flow may cause symptoms that can be debilitating, such as leg pain with activity that subsides when resting. Cramping is a warning sign your body is not receiving the blood it needs.
It can be hard to know if you have PAD. Some patients have little or no symptoms while others have:
- Cramping in the legs, hips, or thighs when walking or climbing stairs that goes away with a break
- Sores or wounds on the legs and feet that won’t heal
- Absence of hair on the legs or nails that don’t grow
- A difference in temperature of one leg over the other
- Burning or tingling in the legs and feet
- Discoloration of the feet or limbs
I Thought I Was Just Getting Older!
Leg pain that increases and decreases with activity level may be much more than just another birthday reminder. PAD develops over time, not overnight, so it’s easy to confuse the symptoms with aging or another health condition. You may think your pain is due to arthritis, sciatica, or just being old and stiff. Consider the source of your pain, and remember PAD pain is in the muscle and not in the joints.
Am I At Risk?
Certain risk factors can’t be controlled, like aging or family history. The good news is a number of the risk factors for PAD you can manage by:
- Quitting smoking
- Monitoring diabetes
- Watching cholesterol
- Increasing activity level
- Managing weight
- Knowing and managing blood pressure
- Making healthy diet choices
Managing your risk factors and monitoring new symptoms are your first best steps in reducing the likelihood of disease progression.
How Can I Know If I Have PAD?
PAD evaluation should always begin with a medical history and exam. If PAD is a consideration, the doctors at VIS of CORA will recommend imaging to support a diagnosis. Then, armed with that information, they will create a personalized treatment plan. When indicated, a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure can be performed in the office to unblock the narrowed vessels, increasing blood flow to the affected limb. You will leave with improved blood flow and a band-aid. If left untreated, symptoms could lead to loss of limb and the possibility of increased risk for stroke or heart attack.
Knowledge Is Action.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms or at risk for PAD, take a moment to take our brief PDA assessment.
Our team of vascular specialists is here to discuss your concerns and evaluate your vascular health.
Don’t let PAD stop you in your tracks. Make this September the month you refocus your energy on your health.