Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects one in 20 Americans over age 50 and raises the risk for heart attack and stroke. PAD develops when extra cholesterol and other fats circulating in the blood forms plaque in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to limbs.
PAD is commonly seen in the legs; however, it can form in arteries in the arms, head, kidneys and stomach.
People at risk for PAD are:
- Age 50 or older
- Smokers or former smokers
- Likely to have high blood pressure and/or cholesterol
- Likely to have a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack or stroke
Signs and symptoms of PAD include:
- Claudication—fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, cramping in the leg, buttocks, thigh or calf muscles
- Pain in the legs and/or feet
- Sores or wounds on toes, feet or legs that heal slowly or not at all
- Color changes in the skin, including paleness or blueness
- Warm feeling in one leg
- Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs