Ouch! My Legs Hurt!

January 1, 2012

• Do your legs, butt, hip, thigh or calf ever hurt after taking a short walk or climbing a few stairs but stop hurting after you rest?Screen shot 2011-12-28 at 11.07.20 AM
• Are your feet or toes cold?
• Have you noticed any hair loss on your legs?
• Is your skin cool to the touch?
• Do you have ulcers or sores on your legs or feet that won’t heal?
• Have you noticed a decrease or absence of pulses in your feet?
• Do you experience Erectile Dysfunction?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).  While the most common symptom of PAD is leg pain upon exertion, such as walking, up to 40% of those with PAD do not have leg pain; therefore, it’s important to be aware of other symptoms.

PAD is caused by a narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs.  Most often this is due to a buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis.  The picture shows an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis, causing PAD.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about 8 million people have PAD.  Men and women are equally affected by this disease.  African Americans are at greater risk of getting PAD than other ethnicities.  Other risk factors include:

• Smoking*
• Diabetes*
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol (over 240)
• Obesity (BMI over 30)
• Age, especially after 50
• A family history of PAD, heart disease or stroke

**People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing PAD due to reduced blood flow.
PAD is fairly easy to prevent by exercising, avoiding tobacco (smoking increases your risk of PAD 2-6 times and it worsens your symptoms if you already have it), and keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes under control.  These same tactics can be used to improve symptoms of PAD.

A diagnosis of PAD can be easily determined by measuring blood pressure in your ankles and comparing it blood pressure in your arms at rest and after exercise.  This test is called an ankle-brachial index (ABI).  It is very important to treat PAD, as those with the disease are at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, or critical limb ischemia, which is when open sores or injuries do not heal and can lead to amputation.

St. Christopher Fund contact information:
Website:  www.truckersfund.com
Email: truckersfund@gmail.com
Donation line: 877-332-GIVE (4483)
Fax #: 865-851-8396
P.O. Box 30763  Knoxville, TN 37924