Studies show that one in every 20 Americans over age 50 develop peripheral
arterial disease (PAD), which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Similar to plaque buildup in the coronary arteries, plaque can accumulate
over time and cause atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) in
the legs. In addition to serious risk factors like heart attack and stroke,
PAD can lead to amputation if left untreated. PAD most commonly affects
the legs, but can also affect the arms, kidneys, stomach and other areas
of the body.
Symptoms of PAD may include:
- Discomfort or cramping in the buttocks, thigh or calf when walking
- Pain in the legs or feet that interrupts sleeping
- Sores on legs, feet or toes that will not heal
- Pale or blue skin tone in the feet
- Reduced nail or hair growth on the legs and toes
- Cooler temperature in one leg
While these are common signs of PAD, not everyone experiences symptoms.
“Early detection of PAD can be challenging because many patients
associate the symptoms with the normal aging process,” said
Mahmood Razavi, MD, board-certified interventional radiologist at
St. Joseph Hospital. “It is important for patients to acknowledge the warning signs
of PAD, especially if they have increased risk of developing the disease.”
Patients should seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of PAD
and have any of the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- Smoke or a history of smoking
- Cardiovascular disease or a family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- 50 years of age or older
PAD can be diagnosed with a non-invasive, painless screening procedure
called an anklebrachial index (ABI). An ABI compares the blood pressure
in the arms to the blood pressure in the legs to determine if there is
a reduced amount of blood flow in the legs and feet.
Treatment options for PAD can vary depending on the extent of the disease
and severity of symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Common treatments for
PAD include lifestyle changes and medication. Surgery is done in serious
cases when other treatments fail.
“If a patient has underlying risk factors for PAD and a diagnosis
is made relatively early, the most favorable treatment option is to manage
controllable risk factors,” Dr. Razavi added.
If you are at risk for PAD and have developed any symptoms, please call
(714) 744-8849 to schedule a PAD screening at St. Joseph Hospital’s
Heart and Vascular Center.
For more information about Dr. Razavi, click
here. For more information about St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, click
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.