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Peripheral artery disease: what it is, how to diagnose it

Peripheral artery disease may not be well-known, but it affects about 5% of people over the age of 50 in T,exas and across the U.S. That comes to between 8 and 12 million people. If left untreated, it can lead to a heart attack, a stroke or the need for a foot or leg amputation.

It all begins with a build-up of plaque in the veins, a condition called atherosclerosis. This is caused by high cholesterol levels. PAD occurs when the build-up starts to restrict the flow of blood to the limbs. There are three signs that one should look for to determine if one has the disease.

Cramping in the lower limbs, including feet, legs and hips, is the first sign. It will arise when walking, exercising or climbing stairs because these movements increase the muscles' demand for blood: a demand that will not be met. Even while resting, patients may feel muscle pain in their legs. However, this should not be the only sign to go by. According to Circulation Research, only 15% of patients with PAD experience this cramping.

The other two signs are a decrease in leg temperature and a delay in the healing of wounds on the lower limbs. As temperatures decrease, you may notice your toes becoming blue and your toenails taking longer to grow.

PAD patients are frequently the victim of a wrong diagnosis and may not have their condition identified until it has become severe. If the misdiagnosis or the delay are attributable to negligence on the part of the doctors, then victims may have a malpractice case on their hands. After all, they have the right to seek compensation for all losses linked with the worsening of their condition. They may want a lawyer to assess the case first, though.

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