Peripheral Arterial Disease
Monday, March 16, 2009

Peripheral arterial disease affects about 8 million Americans. It becomes more common as one gets older and diagnosis is critical, as people with PAD have a four to five times higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this disease in today’s 60 Second Housecall.

Peripheral arterial disease is a clogging of the arteries usually caused by atherosclerosis. In most cases of peripheral arterial disease, atherosclerosis affects the arteries of the legs. Over time, it can cause loss of feeling or weakness in the affected leg.

Walking or exercising increases the muscle’s demand for oxygen-rich blood. Peripheral arterial disease limits the blood flow to your legs. This causes pain in the calf or thigh muscle. The pain stops after you rest for a while.

Major risk factors of peripheral arterial disease include being 40 or older, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Treatment includes reducing risk factors. If you smoke, you should stop. Lower your cholesterol level. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar level under control. A regular exercise program is necessary. You should walk at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. Medications such as pain relievers and blood thinners are sometimes helpful. For severe narrowing of the arteries, you may need surgery to open them up.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, I’m Dr. Edward Hill.