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Peripheral artery disease can fool even the most clever of us. Often silent, sometimes fatal and potentially preventable, the disease either shows no signs or symptoms, or masks itself behind leg pain that comes with walking — a hallmark of aging, sufferers might argue.

But leg pain when you walk is not normal. And it might just be your leg muscles telling you they are deprived of oxygen during exercise, as PAD occurs when the arteries that provide blood to the leg muscles become narrow or blocked— the same thing that causes most heart attacks and strokes. 

The limited blood flow associated with PAD can cause a variety of problems. In addition to leg pain when walking, PAD can cause abdominal pain after eating, but that's just the beginning. It can also cause kidneys to fail. Severe PAD can lead to foot or leg amputation. And because of the fact that PAD is typically caused by the accumulation of cholesterol-filled plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis), many people with PAD die from a heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, or stroke.

But the good news is that PAD is easy to diagnose, and many treatments are available. The key is for patients to be aware and take action. 

Risk factors for PAD include: 

  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure 
  • high cholesterol
  • increasing age (especially those over 50)
  • a family history of PAD

People who smoke or have a history of smoking, or those with diabetes have the greatest risk of developing PAD due to reduced blood flow.

If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing early PAD symptoms, call us 24/7 at 1-888-377-KDMC (5362).

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