When you think of a clogged artery, odds are you think about it affecting your heart, but this condition can also occur in your feet. This is known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), and it is characterized by a buildup of cholesterol and plaque in the the arteries of your extremities. Today, we take a look at peripheral artery disease and how it can be prevented and treated.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease, a form of atherosclerosis, is a condition that restricts bloodflow to your arms and legs. If restriction is bad enough, PAD can cause:
Weakness in your legs and feet
Cramping while walking
Increased sores or infection on the feet
Limitations with walking and activities
Eventual loss of a limb
Although the prospect of losing a limb to the disease is frightening, doctors don’t really recommend testing for the condition unless you start to experience symptoms. That said, there are some populations that are at a heightened risk for PAD. If you are over the age of 60, have diabetes, are a smoker or have a family history of the condition, it’s probably a good idea to get your feet examined.
PAD Testing and Prevention
Unlike some tests, a PAD test isn’t very invasive. Your doctor can check for signs of the disease with a simple pulse test in your feet. A trained physician will check two locations on each foot for a pulse. If these are easily detected, you are getting good bloodflow to the region.
Should the doctor have cause for concern after the first test, you may be subjected to an ankle brachial index screening. This will involve blood pressure cuffs and ultrasound waves to hear pulses in the foot. If there is a significant difference in blood pressure between your arm and foot, you may be suffering from peripheral artery disease.
Treatment of PAD involves many lifestyle interventions, including:
Eating a healthy diet
Giving up cigarettes
Good foot and skin care
Those four options should be your first intervention techniques, but they aren’t the only options. Doctors may also recommend medications to treat high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Although there is no cure for peripheral artery disease, you can slow its progression by exercising and consuming a healthy diet. If you have concerns about your foot health, speak to your physician today.