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11.30.22

Critical Healthcare: Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms

Arterial disease is so tricky because it rarely shows any symptoms until the problem has progressed into severe stages. However, there are symptoms you can identify early in some patients that can be life-saving.

That’s why we’ve chosen to talk about peripheral artery disease, symptoms, and treatment options available with the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center.

How we help identify Peripheral Artery Disease symptoms

Many patients coming into the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center for the first time are usually only doing so because they’ve exhausted the rest of their care options. Leg pain that won’t go away, shortness of breath they can’t explain—we often try to tackle these symptoms independently without realizing they are a byproduct of our vascular health. 

That means our patients often deal with discomfort and vascular disease for quite some time before they ever even hear about us.

But before we can talk about Peripheral Artery Disease, we need to dig into arterial disease in general.

So, What is Arterial Disease?

Your arteries are the blood vessels that conduct blood from the heart to the rest of your body. Nearly every artery in your body carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the distinct tissues and organs that need it, making them a pivotal part of your circulatory health.

Notably, your arteries don’t face the same medical issues that your veins do. For example, your arteries are the problem area in question when discussing healthy or unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Thankfully, you can count on the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center to provide comprehensive arterial care!

The Basics of Arterial Disease

Two of the most common problems specific to the arteries treated at the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center include atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease. We’re digging into those topics today because both conditions serve as foundational health concerns for nearly all arterial diseases. 

Where you find these two conditions, you’ll find other health issues. So, identifying atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease symptoms is often mission-critical.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the first stage of all other arterial diseases. As plaque builds up within an artery, it leads to the progressive thickening of the artery’s lining. This thickening process slowly narrows the artery’s interior, blocking the flow of blood and reducing blood circulation around the body to specific organs or regions of the body. 

This process, atherosclerotic occlusive vascular disease—atherosclerosis—is best described as hardening of the arteries. All other vascular diseases stem from plaque buildup and arterial hardening.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:

  • High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • High saturated fat diet

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a specialty at the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center, results from a progressive thickening of an artery’s lining caused by plaque buildup. This narrows or blocks blood flow, reducing blood circulation to specific organs and bodily extremities. Bodily extremities, like your legs, are the most noticeably affected by PAD

If the plaque surface in your artery breaks apart or becomes ulcerated, it could cause blood clots or plaque blockages. Particulate debris from this buildup travels through the circulatory system, impacting blood flow to tiny blood vessels and potentially damaging sensitive organs—like your brain!

Factors that increase your risk of peripheral artery disease include:

  • High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Physical Inactivity
  • High saturated fat diet

Dr. Stout sat down goes over common causes and risk factors for PAD 👇

Signs and Symptoms

Most arterial diseases are asymptomatic until significantly progressed in large part because your arteries are only routinely monitored when something is already going wrong. Otherwise, most medical professionals see no need to take up your time. This makes routine screening (especially if you have any of the above risk factors) imperative.

Atherosclerosis is identifiable with routine blood work but can be nearly impossible to detect if not severe. Because it is the precursor of other, more complex arterial diseases, it is most frequently identified by diagnosing other arterial diseases. 

Likewise, many more severe arterial diseases are only really identifiable when patients start experiencing the worst byproducts of their progression: strokes, heart attacks, embolisms, cardiac events. 

Thankfully, quite a few arterial diseases are relatively easy to detect. In particular, the identifiable nature of peripheral artery disease symptoms makes tackling your arterial health simpler.

Notable Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms

Peripheral arterial disease symptoms are some of the most notable of all arterial health concerns.

Characterized by the weakening or obstruction of blood flow within your legs, PAD causes most patients to experience cramping pain in the joints or muscles of their legs and hips. This is due to obstruction of blood flow to active regions of your body, and the insufficiency can cause pain and lingering discomfort. 

PAD also has other identifiable symptoms you can use to gauge your arterial health, including:

  • Decreased lower leg temperature
  • Difficulty ambulating or pain while walking
  • Toe or foot wounds that will not heal or heal very slowly
  • The change of your skin color on your legs to purple or blue
  • Gangrene
  • Thin, shiny skin
  • Hair loss on your legs

If you or a loved one are experiencing any symptoms listed above or unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain, or soreness, consider reaching out to your primary care provider. 

How to Care for your Arterial Health

There’s a lot you can do without involving a vascular surgeon to improve your arterial health and prevent the worst of peripheral artery disease symptoms. After all, conservative treatments and preventative care are hugely important in mitigating circulatory weakness and arterial disease. 

So if you are noticing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to take steps to mitigate future issues. Good behaviors can’t remove plaque already there, but they ensure that the problem doesn’t worsen. With supportive artery care, your vascular health should only improve!

So what is there for you to do? 

Our advice isn’t glamorous, but it is simple: take care of your body.

Conservative Care

Make sure not to smoke, consume smaller portions, watch your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and stay as active as possible. Much of the stress we place upon our circulatory system is, with attention, easily fixed. Though some patients don’t have a say in the matter due to underlying issues, for most people, your artery health is up to you.

If you’re looking for more specific steps you can take to improve your artery health, here are a few activities you can do:

Exercise

Exercising is a great way to improve vascular health, as it keeps blood flowing and prevents further plaque buildup. Walking and cardiovascular exercise are beneficial, but anything that elevates your heart rate is good. You should make a point of exercising once a day or as much as is feasible.

Eat Healthier

Diet is a major contributing factor to arterial disease. Foods high in cholesterol are a major cause of plaque buildup and increased blood pressure, so eating healthy is important in improving your health: more fruits and vegetables, less red meat and dairy.

Lose Weight

This item is the most difficult. Being overweight can significantly strain your circulatory system, as it requires more work to move blood around your body. Losing weight is a vital step to improve circulatory function and overall vascular health.

Vascular Care

In tandem with conservative care, consulting a vascular specialist is essential to continue arterial health. After all, conservative care can’t erase pre-existing plaque. Rather, it can simply prevent further unhealthy buildup and mitigate the potential worsening of symptoms.

Consulting vascular professionals is important because they can help set long-term treatment plans and medication regimens in place to eliminate the issue. This style of conservative care isn’t available purely through at-home lifestyle changes or behavioral adjustments. Medications like statins are vital for lowering cholesterol levels, a key factor in arterial disease, and require a prescription from a doctor or vascular surgeon.

Additionally, it’s worth discussing surgical or interventional care for improving your vascular health. These care alternatives are only available when consulting a vascular professional equipped with the resources to provide you with comprehensive care.

Read about why you should see an Artery Specialist in Rogers→

Assessing peripheral artery disease symptoms and more at Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center in Rogers, Arkansas!

If you need support with treating peripheral artery disease symptoms, turn to the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center. Our experience and constantly expanding suite of care options enable us to guide you toward lasting wellness solutions.

We are a premier practice in Northwest Arkansas for the highest-quality vein and artery treatments. Dr. Haney, Dr. Stout, and the expert staff have over 500 years of combined experience caring for patients’ vascular well-being. Helping people is what we do; our mission is to provide the people of Northwestern Arkansas and beyond with the absolute best care possible.

You can count on the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center to provide effective solutions for treating your arterial disease. Regardless of your needs or care resources, we will work with our patients to achieve optimal care results every time. 

So, if you’re concerned about your vascular well-being, check out our Virtual Vein Screening Tool or schedule a consultation!

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