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Recognizing the Signs of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common circulatory condition affecting 230 million people worldwide. It occurs when there’s a narrowing or blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the limbs, most commonly the legs. Identifying the signs and symptoms of PAD is crucial for early detection. 

Untreated PAD may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Peripheral arterial disease has no cure, but prompt and effective treatment and lifestyle changes can minimize symptoms. Factors that increase your risk of developing PAD include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity.

At South Florida Vascular Associates, board-certified vascular intervention physician William Julien, MD, and his expert team offer advanced and personalized treatment options to relieve PAD symptoms such as leg pain and cramping and improve your overall artery health. 

Here, Dr. Julien explains the most common signs of PAD to help you recognize when you should seek medical care.

Leg pain and discomfort

One of the primary symptoms of PAD is leg pain, known as intermittent claudication. This pain usually occurs during physical activity and resolves with rest. Individuals with PAD may experience cramping, aching, or a feeling of heaviness in their legs. 

The pain is often located in the calf muscles but can also occur in the hips, thighs, or buttocks. It’s important not to dismiss leg pain as a normal sign of aging.

Slow-healing wounds

Peripheral artery disease can lead to impaired blood flow, resulting in slow wound healing. Even minor cuts, scratches, or sores on the legs and feet may take an extended period to heal or may not heal at all. This is due to the reduced supply of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients required for healing. 

Cold or numb extremities

Reduced blood flow deprives your extremities of adequate warmth, leading to a persistent sensation of coldness. The affected area may also feel numb or tingly. These symptoms are often most noticeable in your feet, toes, and lower legs.

Changes in skin appearance

People with PAD may experience visible changes in the skin of their lower extremities. Skin color may appear pale or bluish, indicating a lack of proper blood flow. The skin might have a shiny, tight, or smooth appearance due to reduced elasticity and moisture. Hair loss on the legs and feet can also be a sign of compromised blood circulation. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, call South Florida Vascular Associates or request an appointment online. We have three convenient locations in Coconut Beach, Boynton Beach, and Plantation, Florida.

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Do you experience frequent leg pain and cramping and have trouble walking? If so, you may be one of the millions who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Find out what lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your symptoms.