Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD, is blockage of the arteries to the legs, arms, and head. It can be deadly, and doctors say 1 in 5 people will develop it.
PAD is similar to coronary artery disease and is most commonly found in the legs. Many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else.
“The typical symptoms are when you walk a certain distance you have pain in your thigh. You have pain in the calf. That you stop walking and rest for a couple of minutes for the pain to go away. Then they can start walking again,” explained Dr. Velury.
Cardiologist Dr. Vijaya Velury from Comanche County Memorial Hospital says this disease is a common problem, and worse, the survival rate is not good.
“Once you have severe blockage, or once you have ischemia, about 50 percent of people either die or lose their legs in one year. So the prognosis is worse than it is for breast cancer or lymphoma,” explained Dr. Velury.
Dr. Velury says that’s why it is so important for people to be aware of the disease and take preventative measures.
“Medical treatment is the first and foremost. Taking a blood thinner like aspirin or Plavix. Making sure that diabetes is under control. Make sure the cholesterol is under control. Make sure the blood pressure is under control, and working on smoking sensations is very important,” explained Dr. Velury.
People with Peripheral Arterial Disease have a higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke.
“A lot of people who have blockage in their legs, die because of heart problems. So once we know that somebody has blockage in their body, then we are more aggressive and more careful about managing their diabetes, their cholesterol, their blood pressures, and working on their smoking cessations,” explained Dr. Velury.
Most people develop the disease in their 70’s, but you can increase your risk by living an unhealthy lifestyle. Dr. Velury says other symptoms besides pain, can be discoloration in the legs, cramping, tiredness, and sores or ulcers.