Many patients are unaware they have peripheral artery disease, but more than 3 million new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
Dr. Kamaldeep Singh, a cardiologist with Lee Health, says heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. but what many people don’t know is peripheral artery diseases often goes hand in hand with heart disease. “Most people that have coronary artery disease, meaning buildup of plaque in arteries in the heart, will have plaque buildup in other parts of their body.”
Peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, means there is plaque buildup in the arteries causing them to narrow and harden. This can cause circulation problems and reduce blood flow to the arms and legs. “When it happens in the arteries of the heart it’s called coronary artery disease. When it happens in other parts of the body, for example if it happens in the arteries of the leg, arteries of the arm, arteries of the neck, then it’s called peripheral artery disease,” said Dr. Singh.
There are many things patients can do to prevent PAD like stop smoking, control diabetes, control high cholesterol, control high blood pressure, and monitor weight. “The treatment could start with simple approaches like exercise programs and medications,” said Dr. Singh.
Patients with PAD may have non-healing wounds on their feet, or pain in their legs and feet. If the symptoms get worse patients are at risk for heart attack or stroke. “You’ve got to be a little bit more vigilant about your symptoms so if you start developing chest pain, pressure, tightness, shortness of breath, then you may want to seek medical attention. If you’re having exceptional pain in your legs then you may want to get medical attention for that,” said Dr. Singh.
Making lifestyle changes now can prevent PAD and ultimately save your life.
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