Peripheral Vascular Disease
Your heart pumps oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the body. Blood vessels called arteries carry this blood away from the heart and toward the rest of the body. As blood travels away from the heart, it flows into large arteries in the abdomen and thighs which branch into smaller vessels in the legs and feet. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is when the arteries in your leg are narrowed or blocked. This impairs blood flow and prevents muscles and tissues from receiving enough oxygen and nutrients.
PAD cannot be cured but lifestyle changes and treatment can improve your blood flow and prevent the disease from worsening.
Risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Family history of early heart disease
- High cholesterol and/or high-fat diet
- Heart disease
- Age of 60 years or older
PAD can cause claudication, discomfort or pain in your buttocks, thighs, or calves that occurs when you walk and goes away after you rest. You may experience tightness, heaviness, cramping, weakness or aching with activity. It often worsens when walking uphill or climbing up stairs. Having PAD also increases the chances that other arteries will become blocked. If arteries carrying blood to the heart or brain are blocked, you may be at risk of a heart attack or stroke.