Somewhat alarming TV commercials have quickly made PAD, or peripheral artery disease, better known, but Dr. Ross Tsuyuki and researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada warn that not enough people are aware of this dangerous health condition. Similar to the clogged arteries associated with heart disease, PAD is characterized by clogged arteries in the legs, which reduces their blood flow. To determine how prevalent PAD is, 362 adults over age 50 were screened for PAD, which involves comparing the blood pressure in the leg to that of the arm. PAD was found in 5 percent of those tested, four-fifths of whom had no idea they had it. "PAD is a very strong risk factor for poor outcome, including heart disease, stroke and lower limb amputation," Tsuyuki explains. There is no recommended routine screening for PAD in the US, but Tsuyuki thinks it should be screened for in people who already have heart disease or have had a stroke, followed by those at high risk for heart disease and stroke because of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. PAD may show warning signs, such as leg pain during exercise, open leg sores that don’t heal, feeling of coldness or numbness in one or both legs and pain in the toes at night, but you might not notice any symptoms. Treatment often includes aspirin or other anti-blooding clotting therapies and cholesterol-lowering treatments.
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