When you feel any pain or cramping in the leg or in your hip while walking or climbing the stairs, you might want to visit your physician as these are signs of peripheral arterial disease or PAD. PAD is a common circulatory condition wherein there is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head. This means that these affected areas don’t getthe right amount of blood flow to keep up with demand. PAD is also a typical sign of a widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries or atherosclerosis. This condition could be reducing blood flow in your heart and brain, and even in your legs. Moreover, peripheral arterial disease is similar to coronary artery disease or CAD, and is usually seen on peripheral arteries of the legs.
The main cause of peripheral artery disease or PAD is atherosclerosis. Other causes include:
- Family history of peripheral artery disease, stroke, or heart disease
- High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
- High cholesterol
- Ageing, especially after reaching 50 years old
- Obesity (having a body mass index or BMI of over 30)
- High levels of homocysteine – this is a protein component that helps in building and maintaining tissue
Atherosclerosisoccurs when there is narrowing and blockage of arteries in various critical regions of the body.Up until now, the main cause of atherosclerosis is still unknown. However, it is certain that this condition may start if there’s damage in the inner layers of the arteries. Such factors include:
- High amount of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
- High amount of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes
- High blood pressure
Once the damage starts, your body will automatically try to have a healing process that may cause plaque to build up in the damaged arteries. As the damage progresses, some areas of the plaque may break open or rapture that could cause the formation of blood clot. Eventually, the plaque and blood clots can narrow, block, and even limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood into your body.If not treated immediately, the blockage will remain in your body parts’ peripheral arteries. This can cause pain, sores or ulcers and difficulty walking, and changes in skin color. It is important that you visit your trusted physician when any of these happens as the total loss of blood circulation to your legs and feet can cause more problems and complications.These include:
Critical limb ischemia – this condition is also known as limb threat. It begins as open sores that don’t heal, an infection in your feet or legs, or an injury. Critical limb ischemia occurs when if the injuries or infections progress and eventually cause death of tissue or gangrene. Depending on the case and gravity of the situation, your doctor may require amputation of the affected limb.
Stroke and heart attack – the atherosclerosis that causes the symptoms and signs of peripheral artery disease isn’t limited to your legs or arms. Fat deposits may also build up in arteries supplying your heart and brain, which may result to stroke or heart attack
Remember that having PAD means that even minor injuries can be risk factors in acquiring serious infections. In case you have cuts or wounds, cover them with nonstick bandages to keep them dry.You may visit Vascular and Interventional Centre if you have any questions or you need further details about peripheral artery disease. They have a team of reliable staff who are trained to offer outstanding services that you can always trust!