Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition in which arteries become narrowed, blocking circulation and potentially causing serious damage. This can happen in the arteries that supply blood to the abdominal organs, such as the intestines and kidneys, as well as the arteries of the arms and especially the legs and feet. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing PAD than people who don’t have diabetes. But the good news is that keeping blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can do a lot to prevent it — and to improve your cardiovascular health in general. How much do you know about PAD? Take this quiz and find out! (You can find answers later in the article.)
1. Narrowing of the leg arteries can cause which of the following symptoms? (More than one answer may be correct.)
A. Pain in the legs or feet.
B. Dizziness and nausea.
C. Temperature or color changes in the legs or feet.
D. Slow-healing sores.
2. Damage caused by PAD is always permanent.
3. Which of the following are risk factors for PAD? (More than one answer may be correct.)
A. A history of smoking.
B. High blood pressure.
C. High cholesterol.
4. It is possible to have PAD but to have no symptoms of it.
5. PAD can be treated in which of the following ways? (More than one answer may be correct.)
A. Herbal remedies.
B. Oral medicines.
D. Lifestyle changes.
1. A, C, and D. The symptoms of PAD in the legs vary from one person to the next and can change over time. They can include pain in the thighs, buttocks, or calves while walking that is relieved by rest. Decreased circulation to the legs can contribute to poor healing of sores on the feet and legs. Poor circulation can also give a dusky color to the feet and cause decreased hair growth on the feet and legs. While cold feet can be caused by poor circulation, there is a lot of variability in normal foot temperature from person to person, and this symptom alone is usually not very reliable. However, if you notice that the usual temperature of your feet has significantly changed, talk to your doctor.
Dizziness and nausea are not symptoms of PAD.
2. FALSE. The blockage of the large blood vessels that is the cause of PAD is one of the possible results of atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque, or fatty deposits, in the arteries). While PAD is usually a progressive disease that often must be treated with bypass surgery or angioplasty, management of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels can decrease the disease’s rate of progression. In addition, when the arteries are narrowed but not completely blocked, exercise stimulates growth of small blood vessels to compensate for decreased blood flow and can lead to improvement of circulation and, consequently, symptoms.