Times Free Press: Ask a Doctor: What is peripheral artery disease?

Q: What is peripheral artery disease?

A: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a process where plaque — fatty deposits — builds up in the arteries carrying blood to the body. In most cases, the disease affects arteries in a person’s legs. However, it can also affect the arteries carrying blood to your heart, brain, arms, kidneys and stomach.

Anyone who has diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and/or a smoking addiction, particularly at an advanced age, is at risk for PAD. For many patients, the symptoms of PAD sneak up on them slowly.

Signs and symptoms in the legs include painful walking, weakness with walking, and/or a sore or wound that does not heal after one weak. Signs and symptoms of stroke include temporary blindness, paralysis or numbness on one side of the body. Signs and symptoms of aneurysm include new abdomen or back pain. Those over 55 with a family history or a smoking history have the highest risk.

— Dr. Chris LeSar, Vascular Institute of Chattanooga; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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