Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is peripheral arterial
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a problem
with blood flow in the arteries. Arteries carry blood to the muscles and organs
in your body. When you have disease in your arteries, they become narrow or
blocked. The most common cause of narrow or blocked arteries is fatty deposits
(also called atherosclerosis). High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure,
smoking and diabetes can all cause atherosclerosis.
When atherosclerosis affects the arteries in the
legs, the problem is called peripheral arterial disease.
Why do my legs
PAD cuts down the blood flow to the muscles and
other tissues in your legs. Claudication is the name for the pain you feel in
your calves, legs or buttocks when you walk. Claudication is the most common
complaint of people with PAD. The pain happens when you walk. It goes away after
a few minutes of rest.
How can my doctor be sure I have
Your doctor may suspect that your arteries have
narrowed by listening to the blood flow in them, using a stethoscope. Then he or
she may do some tests to see if you have PAD. Your doctor may also do tests to
see if arteries in other parts of your body have atherosclerosis.
Can PAD be
Yes. PAD is often treated with diet and
exercise, and sometimes medicine. People with PAD must stop smoking. It is
important for people with PAD to bring down high cholesterol, high blood
pressure and high blood sugar levels. A walking program is very helpful. You
should walk at least 3 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each time. Walk until
the pain is too uncomfortable. Stop and rest until the pain goes away. Then
start walking again.
Medicine can help some people. Ask your doctor
if medicine is right for you. If your arteries are badly blocked, you may need
surgery to open them up.