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Ease that pain in the leg with peripheral artery disease treatment

Ease that pain in the leg with peripheral artery disease treatment

Peripheral artery disease, often called PAD, affects 6.5 million Americans ages 40 and older. Those who have the condition can experience a wide range of symptoms, including leg pain when walking that feels better with rest.

Wondering how treatment can help alleviate your leg pain? The East Jefferson General Hospital team shares the details below.

What to know about peripheral artery disease

If you’ve ever heard about someone undergoing bypass surgery or received a stent, that person had what’s known as coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when fatty plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. That buildup is called atherosclerosis.

The same buildup can occur in the peripheral arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. When that happens, it can cause symptoms such as:

  • Cold or numb toes
  • Hair loss on the legs
  • Leg pain or weakness that starts with physical activity and ceases when you rest
  • Nonhealing or slow-healing wounds
  • Skin that is cool to the touch
  • Smooth and shiny skin

While leg pain is a symptom of peripheral artery disease, it isn’t the only one. In fact, PAD can affect blood vessels anywhere in the body, not just the ones supplying blood to the lower body.

Anyone can develop PAD, but certain people are at a higher risk of peripheral artery disease. Being older than 60, smoking, and having high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol are all risk factors for PAD.

While the symptoms identified above can be uncomfortable and sometimes even debilitating, PAD is also associated with more serious health conditions, including coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke.

When to seek peripheral artery disease treatment

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of PAD, it’s a good idea to have your symptoms checked by your primary care provider. If they’re related to some other medical condition, your provider can offer a treatment plan, and if they’re related to PAD, you can take steps to treat the condition and prevent blood clots.

If you have risk factors, such as smoking or having high blood pressure, your provider may suggest having testing done to rule out plaque buildup throughout the body, including the kind responsible for PAD.

What you can do to lower your risk

The good news is that there are multiple options for the prevention and treatment of PAD. If you’re diagnosed with the condition, your provider will suggest a treatment plan based on your overall health and other factors. Treatment for PAD is designed to reduce the risk of major health issues while also mitigating symptoms.

Your treatment may include a supervised exercise program, medications to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure or lower cholesterol, and recommended lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation and eating a heart healthy diet. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to restore blood flow.

When it comes to preventing PAD, many of the same strategies used to treat the condition can also help you prevent it. Pay particular attention to what you eat. While we mentioned eating a “heart healthy diet” above, that diet could also be called a “healthy artery diet.”

Fill your plate with plenty of fruits and vegetables, supplemented by whole grains and lean protein. Choose healthy fats, such as those found in avocado or nuts, rather than saturated fats, and limit your intake of foods with sodium and added sugar. All these choices can help keep plaque from building up in your arteries.

Need a bit of good news? A study found that black coffee can help lower the risk of atherosclerosis, so you can enjoy a cup of Joe as you start each day.

Looking for peripheral artery disease treatment? Learn more about the cardiovascular services at East Jefferson General Hospital.