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South Texas Living

Healthy Living: Reduce peripheral arterial disease risks

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November 14, 2012 | 2,019 views | Post a comment

In the United States, approximately 8 to 12 million Americans suffer from peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a hardening of the arteries (also known as “arthrosclerosis”) in the limbs, often the legs. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one in every 20 Americans over the age of 50 has PAD. Many of those with the arterial disease do not experience any symptoms. It can reduce mobility, and is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It can be fatal if left untreated.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, reducing blood flow to the legs. This can result in leg muscle pain when walking, disability, amputation, and poor quality of life. Blocked arteries found in people with PAD can be a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart and brain, may also be blocked -- increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Diabetics are at an increased risk of having PAD.

While everyone over the age of 50 is at risk for the artery disease, the risk increases if a person:

•Smokes, or used to smoke,

•Has diabetes,

•Has high blood pressure,

•Has abnormal blood cholesterol,

•Has a personal history of coronary artery disease or stroke.

Peripheral arterial disease can also be a silent killer. This is because the disease can often go undiagnosed and show no recognizable symptoms. However, some people with PAD may have one or more symptoms such as fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, or cramping in the leg muscles (calf, thigh, or buttocks) that occurs during activity such as walking and goes away with rest; foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs sleep; skin wounds or ulcers on the feet or toes that are slow to heal.

Peripheral artery disease is a chronic progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. Depending on the stage when diagnosed, it can be treated to reduce your chances of losing a limb to amputation.

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