Peripheral Arterial Disease
Also known as PAD, peripheral arterial disease affects some 8 million Americans and is caused by buildups, also known as atherosclerosis, in the walls of blood-carrying arteries.
Peripheral arterial disease is often manifested in symptoms, such as thigh and leg pains, that make people think they have some other kind of affliction.
The arterial buildup in vessels not only causes discomfort, it restricts blood flow, which opens the door for infection and even tissue death, also known as gangrene. Peripheral arterial disease frequently affects the body's arms and legs, but it also can slow the flow of blood to the heart, leading to coronary artery disease.
It is estimated that 5 percent of all adults over the age of 50 have the disease, and the odds increase as a person ages, jumping to as much as 20 percent in the over-65 population.
Left undiagnosed, peripheral arterial disease can be extremely painful, with risk of amputation and heart disease, heart attack and even stroke. Early detection is paramount, as peripheral arterial disease is preventable with proper diet and exercise.