Peripheral artery disease often missed, especially in women
That mystery leg pain that comes and goes.... The thought of peripheral artery disease may never cross your mind, but the American Heart Association is urging doctors and their patients — especially women — to pay more attention to this serious circulation condition.
A statement released Feb. 15 in the heart association journal Circulation says women with PAD are two-to-three times more likely to have a stroke or a heart attack than women who don’t have it, but it’s often unrecognized and untreated — especially in women.
Peripheral artery disease involves the narrowing of the peripheral arteries, most commonly in the arteries of the pelvis and legs, commonly in the calf.
About one in 10 people with PAD experience the intermittent leg pain that is often the signature warning sign, the heart association says. Oftentimes there are no symptoms.
When there are symptoms, they include pain at the site of the narrowed artery that comes on during walking, stair climbing or other exercise and goes away at rest.
Other signs, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
— Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet.
— Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all.
— A pale or bluish color to the skin.
— A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg.
— Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs.
— Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes.
Risk factors for PAD include being 50 or older, being a smoker and having diabetes. The risk may also increase with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, having a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of PAD, according to the heart association.