There are many intricate systems in your body that help it function as intended. The nervous system provides communication from your brain to the rest of the body. The skeletal system gives you structure and your muscular system enables movement. The circulatory system is responsible for moving life-giving blood from your heart to your entire body and then back to be oxygenized before being sent out again. One of the medical issues that can affect your circulatory system is peripheral artery disease or PAD. It’s important to understand why it happens and what can be done about it.
Essentially, PAD is a common circulation problem that occurs when narrowed arteries have difficulty in providing blood to your limbs. With this condition, your legs and feet don’t receive enough of the blood they need and this leads to symptoms like:
- Numbness or weakness
- Painful cramping
- Coldness in your lower extremities
- Sores that won’t heal
- Change in skin color
- No pulse/weak pulse in legs and feet
Why This Happens
Atherosclerosis is the main culprit behind peripheral artery disease. In atherosclerosis, your arteries harden and narrow due to a buildup of fatty deposits (plaques). This situation results in reduced blood flow, leading to symptoms of this circulatory problem. Most of the root causes for this condition are lifestyle based and include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and inactivity.
Individuals who live with diabetes are more likely to develop a worse case of peripheral artery disease and are not as able to respond to treatment as well as otherwise healthy people.
Diagnosis and Treatment
PAD can be found during routine physical exams, especially if a weak or absent pulse is noted below a narrowed artery. If blood pressure is low in an affected limb, it can serve as a warning sign that you may have this disease. Beyond discovery during a physical, an ankle-brachial index, ultrasound, or angiography can be used to determine if this is what you have.
There are a variety of treatment methods—each having different goals—but an exercise program will improve the symptoms of the ailment and contribute to greater overall health. Regular activity can not only help existing cases, but is also useful for preventing the condition from occurring in the first place. Other lifestyle change remedies that will help include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight.
Besides exercise and lifestyle modifications, medication to control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, and reduce high blood pressure can help to stop the progression of atherosclerosis throughout your body. These medications will help reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke due to PAD.
In severe cases, surgery may be required to treat this ailment. Types of procedures that are used include angioplasty, bypass surgery, and thrombolytic therapy.
Get the Help You Need
If you or a loved one are living with peripheral artery disease, Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX, can help. Dr. Robert Parker will work with you to create a treatment plan and outline steps that you can take to prevent it from reoccurring. Call (281) 497-2850 or schedule an appointment online today!