Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the development of fatty deposits
or plaques localizing in the arteries and casing the walls of the arteries
to become narrowed. As the fatty deposits grow larger, the arteries lose
their elasticity and the smooth walls become rough causing more fatty
deposits to grow on the arterial walls. Peripheral arterial disease is
a condition of the blood vessels that leads to narrowing and hardening
of the arteries that supply the legs and feet.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is not a uniform occurrence. Once the
walls of the artery become too narrow, the blood supply to the peripheral
appendages lessens when exercising and causes leg pain and/or numbness,
usually in the calves. Such a narrowing or stenosis can increase the chance
of infection due to the lack of blood flow to the extremities. Blocked
blood flow or occlusion can result in gangrene, i.e., tissue death.
PAD affects approximately 8 million individuals in the United States and
one in five of the middle aged (65-75 years) population have evidence
of PAD upon examination. Assessment for PAD in middle-aged adults can
reduce cardiovascular event rates. Patients with clinical indications
and physical symptoms of claudication (pain when walking) are up to four
times more likely than normal people to have coronary artery disease and
about half will die from a heart attack.
Risk factors for PAD are the same as those for atherosclerosis. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Lack of exercise
- Family history of vascular 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 appear pale.
When peripheral artery disease becomes severe, you may have:
- 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 the leg is elevated and improves when you dangle
your legs over the side of the bed
- Ulcers that do not heal
New treatment option for PAD
Hoag introduces the new PAD Exercise Walking Program, an alternative therapy
to increase pain-free walking and improve quality of life.