Peripheral artery disease, also referred to as PAD, is a condition that affects your lower extremities, especially your feet and calves. Roughly 30% of people with diabetes who are age 50 older have PAD.
If you have PAD or think you do, Dr. David Naar at Premier Vein Clinic can give you a thorough evaluation and put you on the path to better health.
Causes and Symptoms of PAD
Peripheral artery disease is very similar to coronary artery disease, except instead of affecting the blood vessels around your heart, it affects those in your legs. In PAD, your arteries become narrowed and stiffened due to buildup of plaque and cholesterol.
As your arteries become narrower, it’s more difficult for your blood to flow through them freely, so your extremities, usually your feet, get less blood than they need.
They symptoms of PAD are not always clear, and you may not notice them until the disease has become significantly advanced. One of the earliest symptoms is called claudication, which is pain in your calves when you’re walking or doing another form of exercise, that stops when you’re at rest.
You may also have numbness or tingling in your feet or the lower part of your legs. Furthermore, if you have a cut or sore on your feet or legs, it may heal more slowly than it should.
Since you have diabetes, you’re also at risk for peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage, in your extremities. It may be easy to mistake the symptoms of PAD for peripheral neuropathy or even aging.
Furthermore, high blood sugar can cause damage to your arteries by making their interior walls rough. This rough surface can then provide plaque a better opportunity to cling to the walls and build up on them, thus causing the blood vessels to narrow.
Consequences of Untreated PAD
If you have PAD and don’t realize it, you may develop ulcers or sores on your feet that don’t heal properly. In the most severe cases, the result is gangrene and amputation of the affected limb.
Many of the things that raise your risk of developing diabetes — or complications of diabetes — are also risk factors for PAD. For example, smoking is a risk factor linked to both conditions. Others include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
- Coronary artery disease
Several risk factors associated with both diabetes and PAD are within your control. You can lose weight if you need to, and you can quit smoking. You may also take medications to control hypertension or high cholesterol.
If you have any of the symptoms of PAD, or you have risk factors for it, consider booking an appointment with Dr. Naar. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve symptoms of PAD.
Knowing that you have PAD is the first step in protecting yourself. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Premier Vein Clinic today.