Open Accessibility Menu

Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month

  • Category: Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Kirby Medical Center
Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month

September is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Awareness Month! Did you know that PAD is often referred to as the “silent killer”? Up to 40% of individuals with PAD have no symptoms, so it often goes unnoticed.1 Under-diagnosed, PAD can result in serious consequences.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Affecting more than 8 million Americans over the age of 401, PAD occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup, reducing blood flow to the limbs. Blood clots may also form around plaques and can further limit the flow of blood. People who smoke or have high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are at a greater risk of developing a plaque buildup that can cause PAD.

Symptoms of PAD are due to the tissues in the legs and feet not receiving enough nutrient-rich blood flow and include:

  • Numbness, weakness or heaviness of the muscles in the legs
  • Skin changes on the legs and feet, like a lower skin temperature or thin and brittle skin
  • Pain or a burning sensation in the legs

PAD in its most advanced stage is known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), which occurs when blood flow to the legs is severely limited. CLI can cause severe pain in the feet or toes, even while resting. Given the current aging population and increasing risk factors, CLI is estimated to affect more than 4 million people by 2030.2

Prevention and Treatment

Poor blood flow plays a large role in the nearly 84,000 amputations that occur among people with diabetes annually3, so improving your circulation could not only improve how your legs and feet feel, but it could also save you from losing an extremity. Consider exercising, quitting smoking and controlling cholesterol to improve circulation. Managing blood sugar levels is also important to maintaining healthy blood flow. Compression socks and medications, when used as directed by a medical professional, can also help improve poor blood flow.

Living with PAD

Peripheral arterial disease can lead to various complications, such as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or even death. In addition, those with PAD are at a greater risk for developing wounds, which can lead to limb loss. Wounds can form when blood flow is limited, and without healthy circulation, the oxygen and nutrients critical to successful healing are unable to reach those wounds. When tissue in the skin dies, or infections in the legs start to spread, amputation may be the only option to stop spreading tissue damage and infection.

If you or a loved one has a wound related to peripheral arterial disease, wound care is essential. To facilitate wound healing, clinicians at Kirby Wound Care are trained in both traditional and advanced therapies. For more information about PAD and wound healing, call 217-817-9400.