Peripheral artery disease is a condition affecting somewhere between 8 and 12 million people over 50 in the U.S. It is a circulatory disease where blood flow to the limbs is restricted by the build-up of a fatty substance called plaque in the arteries (the hardening and narrowing of the arteries is a separate condition and is known as atherosclerosis). Iowa residents should know that PAD can be known by three signs.
The first is intermittent claudication, or muscle cramping caused by insufficient blood flow to the foot, leg and hip muscles. It arises when patients are walking or exercising; even climbing a flight of stairs can trigger it since the muscles require more blood during these movements. Patients may continue to feel pain while resting. Yet only 15% of PAD patients feel these symptoms of intermittent claudication, according to Circulation Research.
If patients hurt themselves on the leg and the wound takes an excessively long time to heal, this could signal PAD. It shows that the arteries are too narrow to supply enough oxygen and nutrients for healing. The third sign is a decrease in leg temperature caused by the poor circulation. Patients may notice their toenails growing slower and their toes becoming blue. In severe cases, they may develop gangrene.
Left untreated, PAD can lead to tissue damage, stroke and heart attack. Patients may even need a foot or leg amputated. Sadly, PAD can be hard to diagnose because most of its symptoms can be mistaken for those of other conditions. Those who are misdiagnosed may think about pursuing a medical malpractice case if something suggests that the error was caused by negligence. With a lawyer, victims may be able to determine if the claim is valid and how much they might be eligible for in compensatory damages.