Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) affects the arterial blood vessels outside of the heart and brain. PAD is caused by the narrowing of the blood vessels, usually due to the buildup of fatty deposits on the vessel’s walls. This buildup is called plaque, and it can block or restrict blood flow through a vessel. It mainly affects those of the lower arms and legs but can also affect vessels in other areas such as the stomach and kidneys. The most common symptom of PAD is pain when walking (claudication), especially when walking uphill or against the wind. If you have any symptoms, you should consider visiting a specialist in peripheral arterial disease in El Paso.
Most patients with PAD experience pain during walking (claudication). This occurs because the leg muscles need more oxygen than the severely narrowed arteries can provide. The pain gets better when you rest and gets worse when you walk further. Sitting still for a few minutes allows much of the blocked blood to flow again and relieve the pain, giving way to a short period of relief. This pain may be felt more often in calves, sometimes in the buttocks.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of PAD is the narrowing of the arteries due to the buildup of fatty deposits on the vessel’s walls. This buildup is called plaque, and it can block or restrict blood flow through a vessel. It mainly affects those of the lower arms, legs, stomach, and kidneys. Other risk factors are diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol levels, and age (most people with PAD are over 50 years old). There is a genetic risk factor for PAD, and there is often a family history of the disease.
Non-surgical treatment options include medication and lifestyle changes. Medications for PAD may include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), cilostazol, pentoxifylline, and statins. In addition to these medications, dietary changes such as reducing salt intake are recommended in most people with PAD.
In addition, stopping smoking and controlling diabetes is essential. In severe cases or when other treatments do not work, surgery may be recommended to widen the blood vessels. Surgery for PAD usually involves bypassing a blocked artery with a graft from another body area such as the leg.
It is vital to lower your risk factors for PAD, especially diabetes. If you have any of the risks mentioned above, speak with your doctor about strategies to help increase circulation in your body and prevent complications related to poor blood flow. Be aware that advanced peripheral arterial disease can lead to gangrene or an ulcer forming in one’s foot if left untreated.
There are ways to help avoid developing PAD or help prevent it from worsening. A healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and controlling diabetes are all critical. In addition, people over 50 with cholesterol problems (high LDL and low HDL) can consider taking statins such as rosuvastatin or atorvastatin. A doctor or vascular specialist can recommend the best medicines for a particular individual.