For some of the medical conditions we treat at Richardson Podiatry Associates, the problem is contained in just the feet or ankles. In other instances, an issue in the lower body could be a cause of concern for other areas. When we look at peripheral arterial disease (PAD) specifically, the symptoms could indicate a risk of heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, there are ways of treating and even preventing this circulatory condition. The key to treating it early is being able to recognize signs and symptoms when they are present.
Why PAD Happens
The primary cause of PAD is atherosclerosis – a condition where fatty deposits (plaques) have begun building up along arterial walls, which then reduces blood flow. In many cases, the heart is the focus when discussing narrowed arteries, but the effects of this condition are experienced throughout your entire body. Peripheral arterial disease is the term we give when the affected arteries are those that supply oxygenated blood to your limbs.
Specific causes of PAD include blood vessel inflammation, radiation exposure, limb injury, or even abnormal anatomical features found in some patients’ ligaments or muscles.
- Diabetes – One of the two biggest risk factors of PAD is this disease that affects the glucose levels in the bloodstream.
- Smoking – The other major risk factor is smoking, which reduces circulation to the limbs by constricting the blood vessels.
- Obesity – A BMI (body mass index) greater than 30 results in a greater risk of circulatory problems than those experienced by individuals with lower BMI levels.
- High Blood Pressure – A “red flag” for poor circulation is a blood pressure reading of greater than 140/90.
- High Cholesterol – A total blood cholesterol level of 240 milligrams per deciliter or greater is another warning sign.
Symptoms to Note
There are many cases of PAD where the patient does not show any signs of the condition or only has mild symptoms that are barely noticeable. Those who do experience symptoms can have issues like:
- Painful cramping in the hip, thigh, or calf muscles—which is known as intermittent claudication—especially when the cramping is worse after physical activity.
- Leg weakness or numbness.
- Abnormal coldness in the lower leg or foot, particularly in comparison to the other leg or foot.
- Sores that take longer than normal time to heal, or do not go away.
- Slower hair growth, hair loss, or even change of color in the legs.
- Either a nonexistent or weakened pulse in the lower limbs.
There are generally two main goals for the treatment of peripheral arterial disease – manage present symptoms and stop the progression of atherosclerosis. For many cases, simple lifestyle changes can be effective in achieving these objectives. Regular exercise, improved diet, and smoking cessation all can lead to positive improvements in circulation and a reduced risk of complications.
With regard to medical treatments, patients can benefit from various medications that prevent blood clots, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and control glucose levels. In severe cases, a surgical procedure or angioplasty may be necessary to treat a case of PAD that is causing the intermittent claudication.
The good news about PAD is that it can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices that come with an array of additional benefits. Eating a diet comprised of foods low in saturated fats, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy bodyweight, and smoking cessation are all measures to reduce the risk of PAD and provide greater overall wellness. Individuals living with diabetes need to manage their glucose levels to help prevent this condition.
Professional Treatment for Poor Circulation in Richardson, TX
As soon as you recognize the signs and symptoms of a condition like peripheral arterial disease it is important to seek medical assistance. We can provide a diagnosis and then create a treatment plan to help keep you safe and prevent a potential heart attack or stroke.
Whether a condition affects just your feet or ankles or has symptoms that could be indicative of a larger issue, Richardson Podiatry Associates is here to help. Schedule your appointment with us online or call our Richardson, TX podiatrist office at (972) 690-5374 today.