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 (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:
- Coldness, especially in comparison to your other side
- Wounds that don’t seem to be healing
- 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!