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3 Things We Want You to Know About Peripheral Artery Disease and Your Feet

You feel pain in your lower legs, and even the smallest cut or blister takes a long time to heal. These are telltale signs of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can significantly impact your foot health.

As experts in the health of your lower limbs and feet, our podiatry team at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle wants to underscore the connection between PAD and foot health in this month’s blog post. We’re not trying to use scare tactics, but this connection is serious because PAD can lead to dangerous infections and amputation.

Now that we have your attention let’s review some points we want to make about PAD.

1. PAD is common

When you have peripheral artery disease, the vessels that deliver blood from your heart to your legs are partially blocked. While PAD can affect your upper extremities, it most often impacts your lower legs because these areas are farthest from your heart. 

PAD is common in the United States and affects about 6.5 million people aged 40 and older. In many cases, PAD is connected to diabetes, which affects more than 38 million of all ages.

2. PAD can make normal foot issues more serious

When circulation to your feet is slowed due to PAD, it means their access to healing resources is also compromised. As a result, even a minor issue like a callus, ingrown toenail, or inflamed bunions or hammertoes can result in significant problems since you can’t heal as quickly.

Once an infection takes hold, it’s even more challenging to heal as the lack of blood flow to your feet allows the infection to spread. As a result, gangrene and amputation are possible outcomes in the worst-case scenario.

3. PAD doesn't always lead to symptoms

We mentioned a few symptoms of PAD at the beginning of this blog, but we want to dive into them a little further. In many cases, people with PAD may encounter:

While these signs point to PAD, the problem with this common condition is that 4 out of 10 people with PAD don’t have any leg pain.

That’s where testing comes in. Using a simple technique — the Smart ABI® test — we can instantly measure the blood pressure in your lower limbs to see whether your circulation is sluggish. If we find low blood pressure in your ankles, we order further testing to see whether you have PAD.

The takeaway is that early detection of PAD is important as it allows ample time for you to take steps to reverse this cardiovascular disease.

If you suspect that you have PAD or you’d like to learn more about this cardiovascular condition, we invite you to contact one of our 13 locations in Tennessee to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced foot specialists.

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