ANNOUNCER: Chances are you've never heard of peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, a condition that affects an estimated 8—12 million people in the United States alone.
Physicians recommend that if you're over fifty, you should be aware of this all-too-common disease that can affect the blood vessels of your entire body.
ALFRED A. BOVE, MD: Peripheral arterial disease, which we sometimes call PAD, involves the blood vessels of the whole body. It's the equivalent of coronary disease, but in the other vessels of the body. This is often associated with blockage of arteries in the legs, which limits the blood supply to the lower parts of the legs and the feet.
ROBERT S. SCHWARTZ, MD: Atherosclerosis and PAD are pretty much the same thing. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries. It's the plaque that builds up; it's the calcium, the fats, the fibrous tissue, the scarring that grows into the arteries and stops the blood from flowing into the legs
ALFRED A. BOVE, MD: Since PAD is a disease of blood vessels throughout the body, the warning signs depend on what blood vessels are affected. For example, if the blood vessels of the legs are affected, then many people will experience pain in the muscles, that is, cramp-like pain, which we call claudication.
ROBERT S. SCHWARTZ, MD: The patient would start out walking, develop a cramp in the calves, in the thighs, in the buttocks. Cramping sensation that goes away when the patient stops walking; when the patient resumes walking, the cramp typically comes back, indicating a distinct lack of blood flow into that muscle bed when the muscle is called on to exercise.
ANNOUNCER: PAD affects as many as one quarter of the population over 60, yet the majority of those affected by PAD show no outward symptoms at all. Many times doctors have to rely on a patient's medical history and risk factors to determine whether they have PAD.
ALFRED A. BOVE, MD: The people that are at risk for developing peripheral arterial disease, PAD, are usually people that are older and who have the risks that we know are the same risks as those that cause coronary artery disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and diabetes, in particular, are major risk factors for PAD.