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September is Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month September 10, 2010

For more information, call Erica C. Cline at 706/828-2225.

September is Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month

AUGUSTA, GA (Aug. 31, 2010) – You’re out walking, or you’re climbing the stairs. Your legs or feet ache. Maybe they start to cramp. You’re relieved when you stop moving because the pain goes away.

It’s just part of getting older, right? Not necessarily.

Discomfort in your legs or feet while exercising could be a sign of a serious vascular disease – Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD.

September is PAD Awareness Month and University Hospital is partnering with the PAD Coalition, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation to inform Americans about the risk factors, warning signs and consequences of PAD.

PAD occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, reducing blood flow to the legs. This can result in leg pain when walking, disability, amputation and poor quality of life. Blocked arteries found in people with PAD can be a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart and brain, also may be blocked – increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Everyone over age 50 is at risk for PAD and your risk increases if you:

  • Smoke, or used to smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal blood cholesterol
  • Are African-American
  • Have a personal history of heart disease or stroke

In many people, PAD is a silent disease, causing no recognizable symptoms. People with PAD may have one or more the following symptoms:

  • “Claudication” – fatigue, heaviness, tiredness or cramping in the leg muscles (calf, thigh or buttocks) that occurs during activity such as walking and goes away with rest
  • Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs sleep
  • Skin wounds or ulcers on the feet or toes that do not heal for eight weeks or longer

For more information about Peripheral Arterial Disease, log on to www.universityhealth.org/health_library.

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