Blood pumps around the body to our legs and feet through our arteries. Our feet would typically look healthy, be warm, have healthy skin & nails with our muscles working well – all receiving a good blood supply.

Generalized artery disease or atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque deposits on an artery wall) can lead to peripheral artery disease, or PAD, where the flow of blood to the legs or feet is reduced or there is a blockage of blood flow.

In the early stages of PAD there may be no symptoms and it may go undetected, however the risks of developing peripheral artery disease include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and hereditary genetics. In addition, people with diabetes or who smoke are at increased risk and the chances of developing PAD increases as we pass middle age.

At this stage of the disease only screening such as an ankle brachial pressure index or toe brachial pressure index may pick up any changes. This is discussed below.

If PAD becomes more severe, increased artery narrowing, blocking or hardening can occur. Symptoms are more likely which include tired or fatigued legs during exercise as muscles no longer receive the blood flow they need. ‘Intermittent claudication’ is often described by people where after a period of time walking, a rest period is needed for leg muscles before continuing on. Changes to feet may occur such as increasing coolness, colour change, skin dryness, loss of toe hair and changes to toenails.

Some people may even experience leg aching or cramping at night or if they sit with feet elevated.

Wounds and ulcers (including the possibility of gangrene) can even develop in association with more severe compromised blood flow.

People with PAD are also at increased risk of heart disease, stroke and clots. It is important to detect evidence of peripheral arterial disease early so that appropriate medial or vascular specialist intervention can be implemented.

The Footcare Centre offers Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) and Toe Brachial Index (TBI) testing. This screening tool (to compare the blood flow at foot and toe level to that in the upper body) is a gold standard in vascular assessment screening.

Those who may wish to consider vascular screening with their chiropodist if they have not had their circulation checked before would include those:

  1. With high blood pressure
  2. With elevated cholesterol
  3. With obesity
  4. With a family history of heart disease, stroke or vascular problems
  5. With diabetes
  6. With a history of smoking
  7. Passing beyond middle-age

Schedule your appointment with us to discuss your concerns about PAD and we will report our findings to your physician so they can determine if any further management, prescription changes or referrals are needed. Call now to Book.

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