SEGMENT: Health with Dr. Paula - Peripheral Artery Disease - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SEGMENT: Health with Dr. Paula - Peripheral Artery Disease

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - About 8 million Americans are affected by peripheral artery disease, could put you at higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Dr. Paula Walker King from Columbus State University stopped by the morning show on Tuesday

Peripheral artery disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries, most commonly of the pelvis and legs that causes poor circulation to the feet and legs.

Peripheral artery disease is more common among smokers, diabetics and older individuals.

The most common symptom is leg cramping or pain while walking. Some individuals have no symptoms at all. Some people may also feel:

  • weakness, heaviness or tightness of the leg
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or the toes

However many cases of peripheral artery disease are silent, which is a serious issue (left alone PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation). Even though the patient feels well, he or she is at significantly increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

The most common cause of this is atherosclerosis, or the deposition of plaque in the walls of the arteries leading to a gradual narrowing and hardening of the walls of the arteries.

The most common symptom is leg cramping or pain while walking. Some individuals have no symptoms at all. Some people may also feel:

  • weakness, heaviness or tightness of the leg
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or the toes

However many cases of peripheral artery disease are silent, which is a serious issue (left alone PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation). Even though the patient feels well, he or she is at significantly increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Risk factors for peripheral artery disease include: 

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Male sex
  • Advanced age
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Poor circulation can be treated by your doctor in a number of ways:

  • Addressing the risk factors such as lack of exercise, smoking, etc.
  • Medications can be used to prevent the blood clotting (antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants) e.g. aspirin, Plavix.
  • Surgery (angioplasty) can be used to enlarge the narrowed peripheral arteries.
  • A vein from another part of the body can be used to bypass the narrow or blocked artery can be used by the vascular surgeon.

Call your health care provider if you have any of the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. Also, because peripheral artery disease can be a silent disease, it's best to undergo routine health exams with your medical provider as a preventative measure.

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