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What Is Peripheral Artery Disease? Never Ignore These Signs

Man sitting on steps clutching leg.

By Palidachan on Shutterstock

You might not hear the phrase “peripheral artery disease” thrown around in casual conversation, but it’s surprisingly common among United States residents. It’s estimated that the disease affects more than 8.5 million people, and some might not even realize they’re dealing with PAD. Symptoms can be subtle and gradual, which makes the disease difficult to spot.

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease occurs when the blood vessels located outside the heart and brain are negatively affected by a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries. It’s more common in men than women, and it’s frequently found in people who smoke and elderly patients.

If you’ve experienced any of the following symptoms, you could be dealing with PAD. Seek medical attention from a heart doctor immediately.

Problems in the Legs

People who are unknowingly dealing with PAD often notice that their legs feel numb or weak. They may also experience a cold sensation in their feet and calves, as well as hair loss in those areas. Some even struggle to find a pulse in their legs.

Another common leg problem in PAD patients is intermittent claudication, which occurs when the person experiences pain in their thighs or calves when climbing stairs. The pain may also manifest in the hips.

Sores or Ulcers That Won’t Heal

Peripheral artery disease restricts flow to blood vessels, which can lead to arterial ulcers on the feet and legs. These can take long periods of time to heal, and in serious situations, they may not heal at all.

Shiny or Strangely Colored Skin

Because PAD predominantly affects the legs, you may notice a difference in their appearance. The hair thins or disappears, the skin begins to appear shiny, and the legs may even take on a bluish tinge.

At Brookhaven Heart, we are proud to offer short wait times and comprehensive cardiovascular services. Contact our experts at the first sign of heart troubles so that we can assess the situation and begin treatment immediately. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 631-654-3278.