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Take steps to protect yourself against P.A.D.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) is a common yet serious disease affecting more than 8 million Americans. It occurs when fatty deposits clog arteries in the legs resulting in decreased blood flow. Symptoms can include pain in your thighs or buttocks, foot or toe pain that disrupts sleep, slow-to-heal foot wounds, and changes in color or temperature of lower legs or feet. Often undiagnosed, untreated P.A.D. can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation, or in, severe cases, even death.

People experiencing leg pain commonly dismiss it as a normal part of aging and assume they have arthritis. However, leg pain caused by P.A.D. occurs in the muscles rather than in the joints. If you have any type of recurring leg pain talk to your healthcare provider.

Diagnosis begins with a physical exam. Most often doctors use the ankle-brachial index test to check for weak pulses and determine blood flow efficiency. Treatment focuses on minimizing symptoms and stopping further progression. Many times exercise, medication, and lifestyle changes can effectively slow the progression and reverse the symptoms.

Protect your health. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you think you might be at risk.Your heart is in your hands.