Published on October 28, 2019

Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Brings Awareness to Peripheral Artery Disease

PELLA, Iowa—Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) affects as many as 12 million people in the United States, and increases in prevalence with age. One in every 8 Americans older than 60 years of age have PAD but only 25% of the general population is aware of the disease. 

Peripheral artery disease develops when arteries become completely or partially blocked with plaque deposits that limit blood flow to legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or even death. Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) in the legs does not always cause symptoms, so many people can have PAD and not know it. People who do experience symptoms, such as pain or cramping in the legs, often do not report them, believing they are a natural part of aging or due to another cause.  

Common risk factors include high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, inactivity, atherosclerosis and age. As many as 6 million people with diabetes are affected by PAD. Chronic toe and foot sores are common in people with PAD, as are cramping, numbness, weakness or heaviness in the leg muscles. Those who have any of the risk factors for PAD should make an appointment with a primary care provider. A physician can check for signs of the disease with a simple test of pulses in the feet. 

Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Pella Regional recommends the following action steps to help manage PAD:

  • Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, correcting blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
  • Develop healthy eating habits and an exercise plan
  • Exercising to increase the circulation and reduce pain in the lower extremities. Walking, hiking and bike riding are good exercise options.
  • Consult with a physician about which medications may help PAD and if they are needed.
  • Regular foot exams can identify any open sores early.

For more information, contact Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at 641-628-6615.