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7 Myths (And Facts) About PAD Symptoms You’d Be Better For Knowing

couple determining myths and facts

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects up to 20 million Americans and is more prevalent than cancer, strokes and heart failure. Yet, this potentially life-threatening disease isn’t very well known in the community, and some people have never even heard of it.

Because peripheral artery disease is a dangerous problem, it shouldn’t be ignored. For this reason, we’re going to talk about some of the most common misconceptions and facts about PAD symptoms you really need to know.

Seven Myths and Facts About PAD

 Myth #1 - PAD isn’t really that much of a problem

 Because it’s a disease that people don’t know about, PAD is dismissed as ‘something that ‘others get’. Yet, this potentially life-threatening condition affects over 200 million people worldwide.

As mentioned, it’s way more common than cancer (18 million cases worldwide), strokes (15 million cases), and heart failure (5 million cases), and is the equivalent of a heart attack for your legs. If the problem goes undiagnosed, it can lead to other severe issues and even death.

Myth #2 - Pad always comes with symptoms

The obvious signs of changes in skin and nail color or leg cramping are well documented, but did you know that only 20% - 50% of all PAD cases show classic symptoms like those listed above? The rest are asymptomatic, particularly in the early stages, meaning the condition will typically go undiagnosed for some time. In worst-case scenarios, undiagnosed PAD can trigger fatal heart attacks and strokes.

Sometimes, the lack of symptoms may be because people reduce their physical activity. If symptoms return every time you walk or exercise, you may still have peripheral artery disease.

Myth #3 – PAD only affects those over 50

It’s true that PAD symptoms are diagnosed more in people over 50, but abnormal blood flow can occur in people of any age, particularly if they smoke, are overweight, or don’t exercise. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or diabetes, you could also be at risk of developing peripheral artery disease.

Myth #4 – PAD affects only men

While PAD was once thought to affect just males, the reality is that 20-30% of all women over seventy are affected by PAD symptoms. Why? Because the risk factors are higher for women. Studies show that diabetes and hyperlipidemia (two of the risk factors for PAD) increase the risk of claudication (leg pain) by up to four times.

Myth #5 – Having PAD doesn’t affect your overall health

Many people don’t understand how leg pain can be associated with underlying conditions. For example, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries in the legs and feet) may be linked to a possible blockage elsewhere, meaning you could be more at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Myth #6 – PAD isn’t a fatal disease

As already mentioned in the paragraph above, PAD symptoms not only affect your quality of life. If the disease goes undiagnosed, it can trigger fatal cardiovascular issues like cardiac arrest.

Myth #7  - PAD is problematic to diagnose

Patients don’t always recognize the severity of the disease because many have lived with the problem for a long time. Some put it down to ‘aging pains’ while others don’t feel it’s important enough to ‘bother’ their doctor.

In reality, PAD can be easily diagnosed using techniques like an ankle-brachial index test. This simple test compares the blood pressure in the upper limbs with that of the lower limbs. Healthcare providers can then calculate the difference and determine whether the person has peripheral artery disease.

Myths and facts about PAD symptoms – The key takeaway

People pay a lot of attention to clogged arteries in the heart and neck because they know of the dangers they cause, but when the blockage occurs in the legs, the problem tends to be ignored. 

Therefore if you are approaching middle age, are overweight, smoke, or have a family history of diabetes, you need to be aware of the symptoms of PAD and the problems it can cause.

At best, long-term PAD will cause a degree of discomfort, but at worst, it can result in leg amputation and even (in the case of heart attacks and strokes), death. 

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, no matter how slight, talk to the team at the Midwest Institute of Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT). Dr Akinwande is a highly experienced, board-certified vascular and interventional radiologist. He will help alleviate the problems of PAD using the latest, minimally invasive, non-surgical techniques.

Call 314-255-2204 or book a consultation online today. We currently have 5 offices in St Louis, MO and Wentzville, MO and Swansea, IL, Evergreen Park, IL and Chicago, IL.






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