Q: What is peripheral artery disease?
A: Peripheral artery disease is a process in which plaque — fatty deposits — builds up in the arteries carrying blood to the body. In most cases, PAD affects arteries in a person's legs. However, it can also affect the arteries carrying blood to your heart, brain, arms, kidneys and stomach.
Anyone who has diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and/or a smoking addiction, particularly at an advanced age, is at risk for the disease. Signs and symptoms of PAD in the legs include painful walking, weakness with walking and/or a sore or wound that does not heal after one week.
For many patients, the symptoms of PAD sneak up on them slowly. It's not normal health to have pain or weakness with walking that forces you to sit down or fall. If at any time your skin turns black, it could mean gangrene, so treat it as an emergency.
— Dr. Chris LeSar, Vascular Institute of Chattanooga; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Societ
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