Though Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD is not a new concept, it has gained an increased focus in the media during the recent months, as doctors and health experts attempt to assist people living with leg pain, and help them determine when everyday discomfort might be a sign of something more serious.
Today, more than 8 million people throughout the United States are currently suffering with PAD, and living with leg pain that can make it difficult for them to stand up, walk, run, jump, or even climb the stairs. Unfortunately, because peripheral artery disease hasn't received enough attention up until this point, more than half of that number are unaware that they're managing a potentially life-threatening condition. As a result, millions of citizens are putting themselves at risk of heart attacks, strokes, and worse.
Recognizing Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a condition that is marked by blocked or diseased arteries in the legs. When calf compression sleeves were first introduced, they emerged in the medical industry as a way of preventing blockages in the veins and arteries that occurred as a result of inactivity. The reason for this is that the graduated compression in calf compression sleeves fights back against the natural impact of gravity, to improve blood flow throughout the legs and ensure that circulation remains functional.
Unfortunately, without the use of circulation-boosting accessories, arteries and veins can quickly become blocked, and can lead to serious, or even fatal problems when the issue isn't quickly recognized and treated by a medical professional. The tragedy is that many people living with leg pain simply disregard their discomfort, or write it off as a sign of aging or arthritis. In some cases, the issue actually is this simple - in others, your pain could be a sign of peripheral artery disease.
What does PAD Do?
In a nutshell, peripheral artery disease refers to a condition wherein your arteries begin to narrow and can no longer circulate blood around your body as efficiently as they should be. This is a problem that affects about 9% of the total population, but it only causes symptoms in 25% of those individuals. The lack of obvious symptoms is one of the reasons why it's so important for people living with leg pain to seek assistance immediately - even if the use of calf compression sleeves has begun to alleviate some discomfort.
As the disease develops, it impacts the ability of arteries to supply oxygen and essential nutrients to every part of the body. Over the years, the chances are that if you suffer with PAD, you will also begin to deal with the results of the same process occurring in other parts of your body, including the arteries which supply the heart and brain - leaving you at greater risk of suffering from a stroke or heart attack.
Some of the most common risk factors associated with peripheral artery disease include:
- A smoking habit
- High cholesterol
- Weight and Diet
In some cases, peripheral artery disease can also be linked to hereditary conditions. People who are living with leg pain, and also have a history of vascular disease in their family should discuss their concerns with a health care practitioner immediately.
How to Prevent Peripheral Artery Disease
If you've been living with leg pain and you're concerned that you have peripheral artery disease, or you have received a diagnosis, then there are a number of ways that you can help to prevent this condition from worsening. For example:
- Stop Smoking
Smoking contributes to the damage and constriction of arteries, and is a significant risk factor in the worsening and development of PAD. If you currently smoke, quitting the habit can be one of the most important things you do to reduce your chances of complications.
Exercise is perhaps one of the most effective treatment for the symptoms of peripheral artery disease, particularly if you combine regular activity with the use of properly fitted calf compression sleeves. Your doctor may recommend that you undertake a supervised regimen of training that includes simple walking routines, leg exercises, and treadmill use. The point of these exercises is to help build up better circulation in your leg arteries over time. The more you work to improve circulation, the more you will find that your leg pain begins to diminish.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
While you're exercising, it's also important to pay careful attention to the foods and drinks that you consume on a daily basis. Because peripheral artery disease can have a damaging effect on the heart, a diet that is low in saturated fat can help to control your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which could reduce your chances of atherosclerosis.
Care for Your Legs and Feet
In addition to the suggestions above that should help you if you're living with leg pain, or struggling with peripheral artery disease, it's important to remember the benefit of taking care of your feet and legs. People who have PAD - especially those who suffer with diabetes at the same time - can be at risk of poor healing in the lower legs and feet. To avoid infections and further discomfort:
- Treat wounds, scrapes, and cuts straight away. Poor blood flow can stop wounds from healing properly, and prompt treatment can help you to avoid infections that can occur as a result of this issue.
- Avoid socks and shoes that are too tight. Although calf compression sleeves can be beneficial for improving blood flow, it's important to make sure that the garments you wear are not so tight that they restrict your circulation any further.
- Speak to your doctor if you begin to notice any changes in your legs and feet that are worrying - such as open sores, dry skin, or painful points that you didn't have before.
Stop Living with Leg Pain
Although many people across the United States are living with leg pain, that doesn't mean that you have to simply put up with discomfort. Finding the cause of your problem could mean that you also discover treatment options that improve your overall wellbeing.