5 warning signs of peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a circulation problem that can cause you to have trouble walking or even raise your risk of limb loss. The good news? If you have PAD, treatment and healthy changes can help you manage your symptoms and avoid serious complications.
Scroll on to learn about five key warning signs of PAD. You should tell your doctor if you notice any of them.
1. LEG PAIN WHILE MOVING
The most common PAD symptom is leg pain that starts during exercise—such as walking or climbing stairs—and stops after you rest. It can feel like aching, heaviness or cramping. Unlike arthritis, the pain occurs in the calf, thigh, hip or foot muscles—not in the joints.
In severe cases, you may feel this pain at rest too.
2. POOR WOUND HEALING
Poor circulation in your legs and feet can cause cuts, scrapes and sores on your legs and feet to heal slowly. Some wounds may not heal at all, which makes them more likely to get infected.
3. POOR NAIL OR HAIR GROWTH
People with PAD may lose the hair on their legs. And their toenails may stop growing.
4. A COLD OR DISCOLORED FOOT
Reduced blood flow can cause one foot to feel colder to the touch than the other. It may also look paler than usual.
Warning: You should seek medical help right away if you suddenly can't feel or move a foot that is cold, blue or pale. These can be signs of a medical emergency.
5. NUMBNESS OR WEAKNESS
PAD can cause weakness, numbness, or a "pins and needles" sensation in a foot or leg. This could cause you to lose your balance when you walk.
ARE YOU AT RISK? You could have PAD even if you don't have any of these symptoms. Find out if you're at risk.
Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- American Heart Association. "Symptoms of PAD." https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/peripheral-artery-disease/symptoms-of-pad.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. "What is Peripheral Artery Disease?" https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/peripheral-artery-disease.