Does Walking Make Your Legs Hurt?
According to the American Heart Association, peripheral artery disease is a serious medical condition that affects 8.5 million American adults. However many people don’t know they have it. Are you one of them?
What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral artery disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head – most commonly in the arteries of the legs. PAD is similar to coronary artery disease (CAD). Both PAD and CAD are caused by atherosclerosis that narrows and blocks arteries in various critical areas of the body.
“If a blood-flow blockage occurs due to plaque buildup, a person’s muscles won’t get enough blood during walking to meet their body’s needs,” said cardiologist Dr. James Sur. “The “crampy” twinge, when caused by PAD, is the muscles’ way of signaling the body that it isn’t receiving enough blood during exercise to meet the increased demand.”
People who are at risk for suffering from PAD are those who smoke, have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Symptoms of PAD
The most common symptoms of PAD involving the lower extremities are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and returns when you walk again. Other symptoms of PAD include: foot or toe wounds that won’t heal or heal very slowly, a marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot particularly compared to the rest of your body, and poor nail growth on the toes or hair growth on the legs. Unfortunately, many people with PAD have no symptoms or mistake their symptoms for something else.
“Untreated PAD can be very dangerous because it can lead to painful symptoms or loss of a leg, and patients with PAD have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack,” said Dr. Sur. “People at risk should discuss PAD with their physician to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.”
Treatment for PAD focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression of the disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise and medications are enough to slow the progression or even reverse the symptoms of PAD.
Silver Cross Hospital is offering a free program that will inform area residents about the causes and treatments for peripheral artery disease. Dr. James Sur, cardiologist, will discuss the symptoms, health impact, and treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD) on Thursday, March 30. This free program will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., Pavilion A, New Lenox. Sign-up to attend.