Clogged Arteries in Legs Pose Major Health Risk
September is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Awareness Month.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that develops when the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the internal organs, arms and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque).
PAD can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation and possibly death. PAD affects 8 to 12 million Americans, which is why September is recognized as PAD Awareness Month.
There are many possible side effects of PAD, including angina and heart attacks, strokes, non-healing leg ulcers and critical limb ischemia. Chronic toe and foot sores are common in people with PAD, as are cramping, numbness, weakness or heaviness in the leg muscles. Many patients with PAD do not experience symptoms, but there are some signs to be aware of.
"Usually we would see lower extremity pain, sharp leg pains when they are walking a certain distance, then they should check with their doctor," said Teresa Mejorado, Physician Assistant at the OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Wound Clinic.
Mejorado recommends the following action steps to help manage PAD:
- Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, correcting blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.
- Develop healthy eating habits and an exercise plan
- Always consult with a physician about which medications may help PAD and if they are needed.
- Special procedures and surgeries
- In some severe cases of PAD, surgery may be needed to open arteries that have narrowed. Consult with a physician to see if surgery is a necessary treatment.
For more information about PAD and treating chronic wounds, contact the OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Wound Care Clinic at (309) 661-6230.