Don't Risk Life And Limb:
Know The Signs Of Peripheral Artery Disease
North American Precis Syndicate
Pain in your legs and feet could be a sign of a serious condition. Talk to your doctor about peripheral artery disease (PAD). (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—Many people dismiss leg pain as a normal sign of aging. But
for 8.5 million Americans, the cause of their pain can be a life- or
limb-threatening condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). Everyone,
especially those at highest risk, should know the signs of PAD and know how
to prevent and treat it. With new drugs on the horizon, health plan coverage
for exercise therapy, improvements in procedures to treat advanced disease,
and new treatment guidelines for health care providers, there are now more
tools than ever to combat this disease. Unfortunately, the disease often goes
undetected and untreated although it’s more common than atrial
fibrillation and heart failure.
What is PAD?
PAD happens when fatty deposits build up in arteries in the legs and feet.
The condition is often undiagnosed, yet ignoring the signs of PAD is
dangerous. Not only does it increase your risk for heart attack and stroke,
these blockages can restrict circulation to the legs and feet. Left
untreated, PAD can end in amputation. Cigarette smokers have the highest risk—so
high, in fact, that PAD screening should be routine in smokers. People with
diabetes and those with cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood
pressure, obesity or physical inactivity are also at risk.
What can I do about it?
Simple measures can catch PAD before it’s too late. You can manage
or reverse it with proper care. If you have risk factors, take your socks off
at the doctor’s office. Your socks and shoes cover up many of the signs
of this crippling disease:
• Leg pain: The most
common symptom of peripheral artery disease in the legs is painful muscle
cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising.
The pain often goes away after a few minutes of resting. This type of pain is
called intermittent claudication. Thanks to a recent ruling, it’s
easier for people to keep PAD from getting worse. The Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid Services now covers supervised exercise therapy for people with
intermittent claudication. You may be eligible for up to 36 sessions during a
12-week period with an optional second round of treatment. Ask your doctor if
this therapy is available to you.
• Skin problems or
discoloration on your legs and feet: Be aware of redness or other color
changes in the skin on your legs and feet. Temperature changes may also be
noticeable—your feet will feel cooler than other parts of your leg.
• Leg or foot wounds that are
slow to heal: If cuts or other wounds on your feet or toes aren’t
improving after a couple of weeks, you should ask about PAD.
• Poor nail growth:
Slow-growing or thickened toenails can be a sign of reduced blood flow to the
legs and feet.
Even if you aren’t having symptoms, if you have risk factors, you
should be screened regularly. Early detection and treatment are key. Speak to
your doctor about any problems you’re having with your legs and feet.
For more information about PAD management, visit the American Heart
Association at www.heart.org/PAD.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)