Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is an issue that continues to affect Dallas / Fort Worth. Most days of the week, Dr. Lam is hard at work helping people avoid losing their limbs because of complications related to PAD. So if you’re concerned about your risk because of a family history of PAD or arterial diseases, it’s crucial to know the symptoms beforehand. What you might not know is that plaque build-up (a marker for PAD) can occur without showing any signs or symptoms.
First, let’s discuss what symptoms indicate a potentially limb-threatening level of plaque build-up. The number one thing to watch out for as a warning sign of PAD is claudication, which is a pain or cramping in the calves upon exertion. If you have consistent leg pain with tasks like climbing stairs or carrying groceries, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible as this is the clearest sign of PAD.
Other symptoms to watch out for include:
- Muscle cramping and tiredness when walking or climbing stairs
- Leg pain not associated with exercise
- Slow healing foot wounds
- Poor nail growth on toes and slow hair growth on feet or legs
- Discoloration on toes or feet
- Gangrene or dead tissue
- Cold feet or legs relative to the rest of the body
- Erectile dysfunction
Aside from these symptoms, it’s not uncommon for people to simply experience weaker legs and a decreased ability to walk. It’s also important to know your risk factors, such as smoking or a history of smoking, high cholesterol, family history, diabetes and being above the age of 65.
PAD Without Symptoms
Anyone who is at risk for PAD should consult their doctor on what they can do to prevent the further development of disease related to plaque build-up. The truth is, anyone with excess plaque in their arteries is considered to have PAD. This means that doctors rarely have the opportunity to detect artery diseases before they happen. Instead, patients come to the doctor once they show symptoms, which can result in a more challenging treatment plan.
Treating excess arterial plaque before it becomes an issue is crucial to preventing amputation. While there are surgical steps one can take to prevent limb loss, we always advocate for prevention as much as possible. Eating right, quitting smoking and exercising more frequently are great steps to take if you’re at risk for PAD.
Another challenge related to treating PAD early is that there is no consistent timeline for escalation. Some people may find that their symptoms come on quickly, while others may have all the risk factors for a long time before symptoms occur. This means that people with risk factors associated with PAD should take prevention seriously.
What Can You Do?
If you have any concerns about the possibility of developing PAD, the best thing to do is to have a doctor check your pulse in your feet. This is called an ankle-brachial index test and it compares your heart rate in your feet with your chest or wrist to determine if you need to consider further treatment. You can have this done during any regular doctor’s appointment or have it checked by the experts at Lam Vascular & Associates. Even if you show no symptoms, you can still have this test done to determine if you are at risk.
If you suspect you have PAD, the only effective route to recovery is seeking treatment with an expert. Dr. Lam is highly praised within the medical community because of his ability to find solutions that work.
Schedule an initial appointment today if you need help better managing your PAD (or are experiencing any symptoms of PAD). Lam Vascular & Associates has convenient locations in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.