Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD
8 to 12 million Americans suffer from peripheral arterial disease or PAD. It can lead to amputation, heart attack or stroke.Â
For years, Rita and her dogs walked a mile a day around her neighborhood. Then, four years ago, at the age of 54, she was sidelined with pain.
"I was walking and I felt like I couldn't walk anymore, it felt like a vice would just come up and grab onto my leg like that and it just.. I was powerless to do anything the pain was so bad i'd have to stop walking," said Rita Smith, who has PAD. Â Â
"PAD are blockages that occur in the arteries of your leg and prevents blood from traveling down your leg to your toes," said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel of the National Institutes of Health. Â Â
Much like a blockage in your heart, a blockage in your leg can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or even amputation.
"If you don't treat PAD you could likely lose all circulation in your leg and might lead to an amputation...a foot, below the knee, above the knee," said Dr. Nabel. Â Â
Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all increase the risk of PAD. So does being over the age of 50 and African American. The National Institutes of Health says that one in 20 American's over the age of 50 suffer from PAD.
It can be diagnosed in a doctors office by comparing the blood pressure in your arms and legs. If the top number is different, there might be a problem. PAD can be treated with medicine and even surgery if necessary.Â
Now under her doctor's care, Rita is back to walking a mile a day, and she's added yoga to help stay flexible.Â
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