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PAD: Not Just a Pain

photo of older man sitting on bench smoking to illustrate a story on peripheral arterial disease

When you walk more than a certain distance, do you get cramping, pain or heaviness in your calf that eases off with rest? The root cause may be more serious than mere muscle cramps. The same type of narrowing that can occur in the arteries feeding the heart can happen in the legs, where the decreased blood flow can cause pain. (Not always, though: roughly half of cases are ‘silent’ or without symptoms.)

This condition, called peripheral arterial disease or PAD, is more than a nuisance. While most cases aren’t severe enough to endanger the health of the leg and foot (which can necessitate amputation), PAD is like a flashing red light warning of a greatly increased risk of heart attack and stroke: about eight times that of someone without PAD. 

That means taking steps to reduce that risk, as well as managing symptoms.

You can learn more about what those risk factors are, and how the disease is diagnosed and managed by reading my November 2015 health feature for Good Times magazine: What You Need to Know About PAD

Thank-you to all of the interviewees who so generously shared their time and expertise:


Photo by Andrés Salas courtesy of Unsplash