Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) causes atherosclerosis on account of plaque build-up along the artery wall. As a result, PAD can lead to: coronary disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart attacks and aneurysms or strokes (when the brain does not receive enough oxygen and blood vessels supplying the brain become blocked). The main risk factors for PAD are: smoking, old age, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. In time, PAD can lead to interruption of blood flow to the brain and damage to the heart muscle. If undiagnosed or left untreated, PAD will cause: muscle pain, general discomfort, loss of mobility, tiredness and even chronic fatigue. Moreover, PAD can restrict blood flow to limbs, thus, causing numbness and pain or even gangrene which is tissue death. After amputation, life expectancy is up to five years.
PAD can be managed by means of lifestyle changes such as becoming physically active and lowering blood sugar levels with proper dieting (avoiding dairy products, coconut oil, desserts rich in sugar, trans-fats, processed meat such as hot dogs, salami and sausages). There are also many treatment options including angioplasty which is a procedure meant to open narrowed blood vessels that become blocked by fatty deposits. A stent is used to keep the artery open by means of stent placement. Other treatment options entail non-invasive therapies (such as medication) and surgery which can also include limb amputation if the plaque build-up affects the legs or arms. However, when treating PAD by means of surgery one must be very careful because poor blood flow can lead to infection and wounds may not heal rapidly or properly.
PAD cannot be cured, but it should be managed in order to avoid blocked arteries in limbs –a condition that can lead to gangrene and amputation. Symptoms of blocked arteries in the limbs are: shiny skin on the legs, soreness on feet, discoloration of limbs, numbness and weakness in the legs and cramps in hips, calf muscles or thighs. In order to avoid such complications, it is advisable to elevate the legs and feet above the heart level to allow them to rest properly during the night. It is also important not to cross the legs too often because it can interfere with the blood flow. Be sure to talk doctors about the different treatment for leg pain in Colorado to see how they can help and advise.