September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month. PAD is a serious circulatory problem in which the blood vessels that carry blood to your arms, legs, brain, or kidneys, become narrowed or clogged. An estimated eight to 12 million people have peripheral artery disease, but because many people do not know the warning signs or if they are at risk for PAD, the problem is largely underdiagnosed.

“The symptoms of PAD can be subtle and are often ignored,” says Kelley A. Gillroy, D.P.M., a podiatrist at the Midwestern University Multispecialty Clinic in Glendale. “Often, the first sign is calf cramping that requires rest to relieve after walking a certain distance. There can also be pain or cramps in the thigh, hip, or buttock area with exercise.”

PAD may result in leg discomfort with walking, poor healing of leg sores or ulcers, difficult-to-control blood pressure, or symptoms of stroke. PAD also significantly increases the risk for stroke and heart attack. Risks and symptoms of PAD are elevated for those with Type 2 diabetes.

“Especially during this month of increased awareness for PAD, we recommend that patients visit a podiatrist for an in-depth evaluation,” Dr. Gillroy says. “For those who have PAD, insurance companies usually cover routine care such as nail care and callus debridement because the increased risks associated with normally common injuries are significant.”

As part of PAD Awareness Month, people are encouraged to get a “Purple Pedi” – painting their toenails purple – to help raise awareness and encourage others to get an evaluation.

Warning signs and symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease:

  • Leg pain at rest and/or when walking
  • Purple or blue coloring in the legs or feet
  • Skin wounds or ulcers on feet or toes that are slow to heal (8-12 weeks)
  • Little or no hair growth on legs
  • Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs sleep
  • A noticeable decrease in temperature of leg or foot
  • Gangrene

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not for use in diagnosing any condition. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment and does not establish a provider/patient relationship. Always consult your own physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding any possible medical condition.