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    The Hidden Dangers of Peripheral Artery Disease

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    Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the arteries that carry blood to the arms or legs become narrowed, reducing blood flow and causing a range of symptoms. Despite its prevalence, many people are unaware of the risks associated with PAD and the importance of early detection and treatment.

    PAD is primarily caused by a buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, a process known as atherosclerosis. This can happen in any blood vessel but is more common in the legs than the arms. Risk factors for PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and age above 60 years. Both men and women are affected by PAD; however, African Americans have an increased risk of PAD while Hispanics may have similar to slightly higher rates of PAD compared with non-Hispanic white people.

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    Many people with PAD have mild or no symptoms. Some people experience leg pain when walking (claudication), which is caused by muscle pain or cramping that begins during exercise and ends with rest. The pain is most commonly felt in the calf and can range from mild to severe. Other symptoms may include coldness in the lower leg or foot, leg numbness or weakness, no pulse or a weak pulse in the legs or feet, painful cramping in one or both of the hips, thighs or calf muscles after certain activities such as walking or climbing stairs, shiny skin on the legs, skin color changes on the legs, slower growth of toenails, sores on the toes, feet or legs that won’t heal and erectile dysfunction.

    If left untreated, PAD can lead to serious complications such as gangrene and amputation. People with PAD also have a higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing PAD and reducing the risk of complications.

    Treatment for PAD includes exercising, eating a healthy diet and not smoking or using tobacco. Your doctor may also recommend taking aspirin or other similar antiplatelet medicines to prevent serious complications from PAD and associated atherosclerosis. You may also need to take medicine to reduce your blood cholesterol.

    In conclusion, peripheral artery disease is a common condition that can have serious consequences if left untreated. It is important to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of PAD and to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms. With early detection and treatment, it is possible to manage PAD and reduce the risk of complications.

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