The human body is a work of art. It should be taken care of to ensure that it lasts long. However it is always possible that an ailment may knock on your door unexpectedly. One such slow and silent ailment is the Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
The Peripheral Artery Disease causes narrowing of blood vessels (arteries in particular) restricting blood flow to the limbs. It results in insufficient supply of blood to the limbs causing a myriad of symptoms, the most notable being leg pain while walking (claudication).
The symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease are generalized as leg pain. However, leg pain too is uncommon. Most people don’t observe any major symptoms. You may have PAD if you frequently experience the following:
- Leg weakness or numbness
- Coldness in the lower leg or foot when compared to the other side
- Change in the colour of the legs
- Reduced hair growth on the legs
- Reduced toenail growth
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Weak or minimal pulse in the legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction (in men)
- Ischemic rest pain or pain that occurs even while lying down; this pain could be intense enough to interfere with sleep.
PAD can manifest due to atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits or globules collect on the artery walls forming plaques. Although atherosclerosis primarily affects the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles , more often than not arteries supplying blood to the limbs are affected as well.
PAD depends on various factors and these risk factors determine the severity with which the disease manifests itself in the patient. The risk factors include:
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco acts as a catalyst for the narrowing of artery walls aiding atherosclerosis and making it considerably worse.
- Diabetes: A high blood glucose level as a result of diabetes can also cause atherosclerosis as it results in the faster accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
- Obesity: In case of BMI (Body Mass Index) more than 30, high cholesterol levels can lead to a dangerous acceleration of atherosclerosis increasing the risk of PAD. It leads to faster plaque accumulation while also boosting the risk of diabetes.
- High Cholesterol: Going hand in hand with diabetes and obesity, high cholesterol levels can worsen atherosclerosis and PAD. In a nutshell, living an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle will have consequences.
- Age: People over 50 years of age suffering from any of the above mentioned factors are at high risk of getting PAD.
Of all the above-mentioned risk factors, persons who smoke and /or have Diabetes are at the greatest risk of developing atherosclerosis and PAD.
Prevention and Treatment
Both prevention and treatment of the disease involve making lifestyle changes and managing the above risk factors. Prescribed medication aids in the healing process as well.