Peripheral Artery Disease: Bad Blood Flow, Big Problems

If your lawn is drying up from days without rain, you can always grab the hose to water the grass and keep it green. If you squeeze the hose, though, the water has a harder time getting through and it will take you a lot longer to give your lawn what it needs to stay healthy. Your arteries are the same way. Blood travels through them delivering oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body. If arteries become narrow, blood has a much more difficult time making its way through them. This increases how long it takes the blood to reach your extremities with the nutrients needed to keep them in the best of health. This narrowing of the arteries is referred to as peripheral artery (or arterial) disease, and as you can imagine, this condition can have serious consequences.

A Dangerous Drought

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries giving blood less room to flow, resulting in poor circulation. This can have debilitating effects on your feet, since they are the farthest from your heart, from which all blood flows. It is especially dangerous if you have diabetes and experience numbness in your feet. An injury can occur without your knowledge, and since bad blood flow slows the healing process, such a wound – no matter how minor -- can snowball into a major problem. The wound will become worse while waiting for blood to bring what it needs to heal, and the longer it takes, the more likely your chances of infection. This can lead to complications such as ulcers, gangrene, and even amputation.

How to Know When Arteries Become Narrow

Symptoms of PAD can range from mildly uncomfortable to unbearable. You might notice muscle cramps, pain and fatigue during activity that lessens when you’re at rest. Other signs to be aware of include:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Coldness, especially in comparison to your other side
  • Wounds that don’t seem to be healing
  • Discoloration
  • Slow-growing toenails and hair (and even hair loss)
  • Shiny skin on your feet
  • A weak or non-existent pulse in your foot or legs

These symptoms will progress and eventually occur even during times of rest. It’s important to get treatment at the first signs of any symptoms listed above.

Turning Bad Blood Flow to Good

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to treat PAD and ensure a better quality of life. Although symptoms may arise during activity, exercise will eventually squelch them out. The more you get moving and get your blood pumping, the more your poor circulation will improve and your symptoms will decrease. In addition, making a few lifestyle changes will make a big difference. Stop smoking and be diligent about your diet. Eating healthy will reduce plaque buildup, help you maintain an appropriate weight, and keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check. There is also medication that can help you manage these issues.

Peripheral artery disease doesn’t have to take over your life and keep you from enjoying your activities. You can do something about it, and we can help! If you notice any signs of PAD, make an appointment with us right away by dialing (713) 493-7372 to reach our Houston, TX office. It’s essential that you get the help you need before the situation gets worse, so complications can be avoided and your quality of life remains great!