Peripheral arterial disease, (PAD), is a disease where fatty deposits can build up on the inside linings of the arteries. This causes a restriction or decrease of blood flow to the various organs and muscles of the body. Especially vulnerable are the stomach, kidneys, arms, legs and feet.
Did you know that this disease, PAD, accounts for nearly 50% of all the amputations which occur in diabetics! It is also a major cause of amputations in the non-diabetic population as well.
PAD affects 12-20% of the people in the United States who are age 65 years or older. Diabetics over the age of 50 have a 3 times greater risk of developing PAD than non-diabetics. The reason this is important is that PAD carries with it a five year mortality rate of 30%.
If this is not enough of a concern; a patient with PAD faces a six to seven fold increase in risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Not every person with peripheral arterial disease will have symptoms. Diabetics, because of neuropathy, may not have any symptoms but have advanced stages of PAD. The neuropathy is masking the symptoms normally associated with PAD. Pain in the legs, thighs, or buttocks when walking; and is relieved by rest, is a symptom of PAD. Pain in the legs or feet while lying in bed, that is relieved by hanging the feet down or getting up and standing is another symptom.
Early detection of peripheral arterial disease is important to helping you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle and decrease the above risks associated with PAD. Your podiatrist is often the first doctor to diagnose PAD as we are aware of subtle changes which occur in the lower extremities which can indicate the disease process. If you have any symptoms of PAD, see your podiatrist for further evaluation.