Between 8 million and 12 million people in the United States, especially those over age 50, suffer from peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, but many people are unaware of it because the disease, which raises a person’s risk of stroke or heart attack, doesn’t always have symptoms.
September is Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month and we encourage you to learn more about this condition. According to Healthwise Knowledgebase “PAD is narrowing or blockage of arteries that results in poor blood flow to your arms and legs. When you walk or exercise, your leg muscles do not get enough blood and you can get painful cramps. PAD, also caused peripheral vascular disease, is a common yet serious disease that raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.”
PAD does not always cause symptoms, so many people may have PAD and not know it. People who do experience symptoms, such as pain or cramping in the legs, often do not report them, believing they are a natural part of aging or due to another cause.
“If you have any risk factors for PAD or have any unexplained pain or cramping in your legs, you really should discuss this with your healthcare provider,” says Karen Reinhard, N.P., vascular surgery nurse practitioner. “PAD can not only affect your quality of life but can lead to more serious complications and there are a number of lifestyle changes, treatments, and interventions that can really make a difference.”