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Health SceneDon’t cover up the symptoms of peripheral artery disease.BY DR. SARAT VADDINENIIt’s time to uncover the sometimes hidden or ignored condition, peripher- al artery disease or PAD. This occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, arms and legs. That buildup of plaque narrows the arteries and restricts the flow of blood throughout the body. This decreased blood flow also means that less oxygen is delivered to vital organs and extremities.When we breathe, we inhale oxy- gen deep into our lungs. The oxygen enters the bloodstream and passes through a vast network of arteries that wind through the body. When blood flow is limited due to injury or dis- ease, crucial oxygen cannot properly be circulated.According to the American Heart Association, PAD affects more than 8.5 million American adults and many are unaware. That’s why it is so important for everyone to know the risks factors and symptoms of PAD.Risk factors for PAD include:• A history of smoking• Diabetes• Advanced age• High blood pressure• Excess weight• A family history of PAD-personal or• •Because of the restricted blood flow caused by PAD, there is also an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke if the disease is left history of PAD, heart disease or strokeHigh cholesterolErectile Dysfunction-especially in men with diabetesFor instance, those living with PAD may notice leg pain when they are walking or climbing. This pain occurs because the heart tries to pump an in- creased amount of blood to the extrem- ities during increased levels of physical activity. The pain usually goes away when the activity ends.Because of the restricted blood flow caused by PAD, there is also an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke if the dis- ease is left untreated.The good news is that PAD is easily diagnosed and, in some instances, can be managed by changes in lifestyle or medi- cine. You should discuss all possible risk factors for PAD with your primary care provider.Those diagnosed with PAD should:• Stop smoking - the American Heart Association notes that smokers are four times more likely to get and have symptoms of PAD• Work to control diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol• Increase physical activity• Watch the intake of saturated andtrans fatsTo learn your risk for vascular disease, visit yourrisk or speak with your primary care provider.Sarat Vaddineni, MD, FACS, is board certified in general and vascular surgery. He providesvascular services in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. Whether you have a common or complex con- dition, our team of highly-trained professionals at Bronson Vascular Surgery works collaboratively to ensure all of your needs are met. Learn more vascular services in the region at heartandvascular or call(269) 245-8350.10 SCENE 4302 I HEALTH & FITNESSPossible symptoms of PADmay include:• Foot or toe wounds that are slow toheal• Leg, hip or calf pain or cramping,especially when walking, climbingstairs or exercising• Skin problems, pale or blue color toskin on your legs or feet, poor nail growthLegs and feet can be especially im- pacted by PAD. When blood flow is re- stricted or slowed, healthy function in the legs and feet suffer. Symptoms relat- ed to PAD may not be readily apparent, or may only occur occasionally.

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