Taking Control of Peripheral Arterial Disease


Do you have foot or toe pain that often wakes you up at night? Have you noticed pain in your legs or thighs or just a feeling of fatigue or sluggishness in your lower extremities when you walk, but that goes away when you rest? Do you see any wounds or ulcers on the skin of your feet that are taking longer than 8 to 12 weeks to heal? If you answered yes to these questions you may have a condition known as peripheral arterial disease or PAD, which requires a podiatrist’s evaluation and care. If you don’t have a podiatrist, we at NY Foot Health can help you locate a foot doctor in your area.

PAD occurs when fatty deposits known as plaque build up in your arteries causing them to harden and reduce blood flow to your legs and feet. This poor circulation most often affects arteries in the legs but can also affect other arteries that go to vital organs. Currently, it’s estimated that 8 to 12 million Americans have this condition.

Causes and Treatment of PAD

Risk factors for PAD are often associated with other conditions. Your chance of having PAD increases if you have one or more of the following:

·         High blood pressure

·         Diabetes

·         High cholesterol

·         Smoker

·         Obesity

·         Physically inactive

Fortunately, there is a simple test that a podiatrist can do to diagnose PAD. It’s called an ankle-brachial index (ABI) and it compares the blood pressure in our ankles with the blood pressure in your arm. If your ABI is abnormal that’s a strong indicator of PAD and the foot doctor will then want to determine the extent of your PAD. 

If diagnosed in its early stages, there’s an opportunity to slow the progression of the disease. Treatment is generally aimed at making lifestyle changes to lessen plaque buildup. These include:

·         Dietary changes

·         Lowering cholesterol

·         Exercising

·         Smoking cessation programs

·         Diabetes management

In addition, medications may be prescribed to prevent clotting and surgical procedures are also available if necessary. To learn more about PAD and your feet contact us and subscribe to our free e-newsletter to learn about other issues that impact the health of your feet.