If you are living with peripheral artery disease (PAD), you can take steps to help stop your condition from getting worse. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, stay active, don’t smoke, and know how to control other health issues that you may have.
Because of blockages or not enough blood flow to leg muscles, feet and toes, you need to protect these body parts. Blood not only heals, but it also maintains health by sending oxygen and nutrients to your skin and muscles.
Not enough blood flow can lead to a small sore or ulcer. This can become a big problem with slow and poor healing. It might cause infection or a wound that won’t heal. It could even lead to loss of a leg or foot if the skin or tissue dies (gangrene). If you have PAD, you should not walk barefoot but wear shoes that fit you. Examine your feet each day for redness or sores.
You may need to use a mirror to see the soles of your feet or have a family member help you. Feel all around the foot for bumps, sores or tenderness. You might also see a podiatrist on a regular basis depending on how advanced the PAD is and what other risk factors you have.
PAD can also slowly rob you of your ability to be active. Your muscles need oxygen and blood to work, provide strength and balance. You may notice heaviness in your legs or cramping while walking.
If you feel you can’t do as much as you used to or if you notice you are walking shorter distances or more slowly, you should talk to your care team.
At later stages of PAD, pain while you are at rest can occur. If you find you are less active or can’t keep up with others, it could mean your PAD has gotten worse.
Remember, you are the most important member of your health care team. Speak up about your preferences and what matters most to you when it comes to your care.
If it’s hard to stick with your treatment plan, ask for help finding ways to make it easier. You can do this!