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Town Center Foot & Ankle

6510 Town Center Dr. Suite C Clarkston, MI 48346

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September 12, 2012
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PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE (P.A.D.)

WHAT IS P.A.D.?
People have P.A.D. when the arteries in their leg become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, or plaque.  The buildup of plaque causes the arteries to harden and narrow, which is called atherosclerosis.  When leg arteries are hardened and clogged, blood flow to the legs and feet is reduced.  Some people call this poor circulation.  P.A.D. occurs most often in the arteries that carry blood outside the heart.  This includes arteries that go to the aorta, the brain, the arms, the legs, and feet, the kidneys, and the stomach.

IS P.A.D. SERIOUS?
P.A.D. is a serious disease commonly affecting Americans over the age of 50.  The hardened arteries found in people with P.A.D. are a sign that they are likely to have hardened and narrowed arteries to the heard and the brain.  That is why people with P.A.D. have a two to six times greater chance of death from a heart attack or stroke.  When the blood flow to the legs is greatly (or severely) reduced, people with P.A.D. may have pain when walking.  P.A.D. may cause other problems that can lead to amputation of a toe, foot, or a leg.

WHO IS AT RISK FOR P.A.D.
The chance of having P.A.D. increases as you get older.  People over age 50 have a higher risk for P.A.D., but the risk is increased if you: smoke, or used to smoke; have diabetes; have high blood pressure; have abnormal blood cholesterol levels; are of African-American ethnicity; have had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke or have a family history of P.A.D., heart attack or stroke.

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS OF P.A.D.?
P.A.D. develops slowly over many years.  In the early stages, most people with P.A.D. have no symptoms.  Only about one out of four people with P.A.D. actually feel typical symptoms of P.A.D. in their leg muscles.  By that time, their arteries may be so clogged or hardened that they are not getting enough oxygen to supply their leg muscles.  The most common signs of P.A.D. include one or more of the following: cramps, tiredness or pain in your legs, thighs, or buttocks that always happens to you when you walk but goes away when you rest; foot, or toe pain at rest that often disturbs your sleep; skin wounds or ulcers on your feet or toes that are slow to heal, or that do not heal.

HOW DO I FIND OUT IF I HAVE P.A.D.?
Your provider will examine the pulses in your feet and legs.  If your provider finds those pulses are weak and thinks you may have P.A.D., they may perform a test called an ABI, which stands for ankle-brachial index.  This test uses sound waves to find out if there is reduced blood pressure in your arms.  Your provider will then discuss the findings and decide if further testing or treatment is needed.

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