The first step in loving your limbs is learning about your legs. Vascular refers to your blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to every part of your body. When this flow is interrupted due to any number of causes (think of a clogged pipeline), it can lead to a serious disease called PAD. The majority of all leg and foot amputations in the United States were due to vascular disease, such as PAD and CLI.2 The key to prevention is to take the right steps now.
PAD means there is restricted blood flow to your peripheral arteries (arms, legs and feet). Often caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening (narrowing) of the arteries, PAD is worsened by things like smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, age, genetics, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The thing is, PAD doesn't always show symptoms, especially in the early stages. But it's real. It's possible that you may have it right now without even knowing it.
If untreated, PAD can reach the level of CLI. CLI is a severe blockage in the arteries of the legs or feet that significantly reduces blood flow. At this stage, limbs may develop painful sores, ulcers and/or gangrene (dead tissue) because they do not have enough oxygen. The pain may be severe, can last for hours, and typically occurs at night during rest times. If this condition is left untreated, patients may face the risk of amputation.
If you have, or someone you know has symptoms of PAD or CLI, a physician should be seen without delay. Don’t wait, there are physicians trained in technologies and procedures that may be able to restore blood flow to your limbs. You can even get help now using our Physician Finder. Because many are at risk for PAD and CLI, here’s what you should be doing to reduce your risk:
No ifs, ands or butts. This is the #1 risk factor for PAD and makes you up to 25 times more likely to develop the disease.1
Type 2 diabetes makes you up to 4 times more likely to develop PAD.1 Please follow your diabetes care program.
Get a check-up at the doctor’s office. If you have high blood pressure, please follow your physician’s recommendations. High blood pressure can eventually damage your artery walls and can lead to PAD.
Cholesterol is a substance in the blood that sticks to the walls of the artery, causing a buildup of plaque that can narrow and harden the artery. The risk of PAD increases 5 – 10% with every 10 mg/dL increase in total cholesterol levels.1 High cholesterol is caused by a combination of genetics and unhealthy lifestyle but can be managed by following your physician’s recommendations.
If you are 50 or older, you should get your doctor’s advice about good diet, exercise and daily routine. Embracing a healthy lifestyle can make you feel much younger and reduce your risk of PAD. African-Americans are at highest risk for PAD.
Just like coronary artery disease, heart disease, heart attack or stroke, if someone in your family has had PAD, there’s a greater risk of it happening to you.
Unfortunately, PAD cannot be cured. Medical treatment and a healthy lifestyle can help improve blood flow and help keep the disease from getting worse. Taking action against PAD and CLI (critical limb ischemia) while these conditions are still manageable may help reduce leg pain and the risk of serious complications, including the risk of amputation, heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. That’s great news for you and your loved ones.
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These three words have the power to change lives. Between 8 to 10 million Americans are estimated to suffer from poor blood flow to the arms, legs and feet potentially leading to vascular disease, amputation or worse. Are you, or someone you know, suffering from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)? Do you have pain in your legs when you walk at night, or even when resting? Do not ignore it. These warning signs are real and it’s time to get real help. Welcome to the LOVE YOUR LIMBS™ Campaign, by Bard Peripheral Vascular.