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What Are the Warning Signs & Symptoms of PAD?

Because the warning signs of peripheral arterial disease often go unnoticed until it’s too late, many physicians refer to the disease as a “silent killer.” At Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute, physicians actively educate patients about the warning signs and symptoms of PAD in order to help better protect patients against the disease’s dangerous effects.

Understanding Intermittent Claudication

The earliest symptom of PAD is usually intermittent claudication (IC) – pain in the legs while walking. IC is most common in the calf, but can also be felt in the buttock or thigh. In patients with an arterial blockage in the leg, blood flow is reduced when the leg muscles are in use. Of course, the muscles in the leg require oxygenated blood in order to perform. The blood supply fails to meet the muscles’ demand, resulting in pain. Once the leg is at rest, the pain usually goes away since less blood is required. IC may also be experienced as numbness, fatigue, heaviness, or weakness in the leg. 

Symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease

Other common symptoms of PAD (in addition to intermittent claudication) may include:

  • Non-healing sores on the toes or foot
  • Burning/aching pain in the toes and feet (especially when in bed)
  • No/weak pulse in the leg or foot
  • Cool skin on the foot (especially compared to the other foot)
  • Red skin (or changes in skin color) in the foot
  • Shiny skin on the leg
  • Slow toenail growth
  • Hair loss and/or slower hair growth on the foot and leg
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

Getting Screened for PAD

Anyone experiencing the symptoms listed above should consider getting screened for peripheral arterial disease. PAD screening is easy, affordable, and non-invasive. The following individuals should especially consider a PAD screening:

  • Over age 70
  • Over age 50 with a history of diabetes or smoking
  • Under age 50 with diabetes and other PAD risk factors (obesity, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, etc.)

Should You Have Your Symptoms Checked Out?

Remember, many of the common PAD symptoms are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by the medical community. Additionally, 40 percent of patients with PAD have no leg pain at all. If you’re concerned about your risk for having peripheral arterial disease, take our brief online assessment. It takes less than two minutes to complete, but could make a big difference in your health. For more information, contact Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute in Phoenix, Globe, and Tempe, AZ.

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