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Healthy circulation of the blood is essential for all vital organs and tissues in your body. Therefore, conditions like peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, can pose a serious threat to your health. With the help of a vascular physician specializing in peripheral arterial disease treatment in Houston, you can resolve the symptoms of PAD and improve your circulatory health. Read on for a closer look at this condition and the treatment options that may be available to you.

What are the signs of PAD?

With peripheral artery disease, the extremities begin to experience reduced blood flow due to the buildup of plaque along the inner artery walls—a process known as atherosclerosis. As the condition develops, you may notice symptoms of pain with walking, numbness, slow-healing sores on the legs and feet, poor nail growth, or discoloration of the skin. However, PAD often presents no symptoms at all, so your doctor should check for this condition if you are over the age of 70, over age 50 and have diabetes or a history of smoking, or have had a heart attack or stroke.

What causes PAD?

The exact causes of PAD are not yet known, though there is a clear link between a number of risk factors and the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Cigarette smoking, insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure all increase the risk of PAD. Lifestyle changes can minimize these risk factors and help you avoid more complex and invasive treatments.

What are the long-term effects of PAD?

Without treatment, PAD can lead to open sores and wounds on the legs, worsening leg pain, and gangrene and limb loss.

What can be done to treat PAD?

While lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking and increasing your exercise) may be enough to treat PAD in its early stages, you may need other treatments for severely narrowed arteries in the legs. Treatment options include stent placement and balloon angioplasty, which will use a catheter to reopen the arteries and restore healthy blood flow. Other treatments include atherectomy, arteriograms, and thrombolysis.