38-year-old Sameer Sinha got worried when he started to experience a shooting pain in his calf muscles every time he went for his morning walk. The pain got worsened when he sped. However, the pain stopped when he sat down. He kept on ignoring it until one random visit to the doctor. He was made to undergo some tests and was diagnosed with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). PAD is a sign that your arteries supplying the legs are inflammated, weak or blocked. Fortunately for Sameer, his decision to discuss this issue with the doctor was a life-saving one.
Most of us understand the severity of heart attacks, but we are not aware of leg attacks. Dr D R Kamerkar, Head of Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune explains, “Normally a patient will experience pain in calves and thighs, which occurs only while walking and is relieved by rest. This condition is also known as arterial claudication and happens due to narrowing or blockage in leg arteries. It is also known as leg attack. This happens during early to moderate stages of PAD. In severe blockages, a patient experiences constant burning pain in foot along with bluish discoloration of toes or even gangrene of the toes. Gangrene leads to blackening of the toes. Thus, a patient may go through a spectrum of leg pains in PAD and these are some classical symptoms.”PAD should be suspected in all patients who are suffering from diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and smokers. “Only way to prevent is regular check-up which includes pulse examination of legs every year. Also the above mentioned group should undergo a yearly test of ABI, which is a blood pressure measurement of arms and legs. Normally the ratio has to be 0.9 and above. As it starts falling below 0.8, it is indicative of PAD and these patients should get Colour Doppler test done and if required Angiography. Only way to prevent PAD is by controlling diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol. Smoking should be stopped completely and a healthy lifestyle must be adopted,” adds Dr. Atul Rewatkar, Vascular Interventional Radiologist – Pulse Clinic, Nagpur.
You must get yourself evaluated for PAD if you have cramping pain in calf, thigh, and buttock while walking or running for a short distance, which is less than 500 metres. Also, if the pain increases on activity and decreases on resting, it is a warning sign too. Other signs to watch out are dry skin on lower limb and loss of hair on legs.Early identification of PAD, results in significantly better quality of life. A few simple life style modification steps can reduce your risk of PAD to a large extent. Diet control, controlled blood sugars, simple exercises like walking; cycling etc can improve your chances of keeping PAD at bay.
Stress can also play havoc with the body and so it’s best to avoid that too