SOME DOCTORS CALL IT THE MOST COMMON DISEASE THAT NOBODY'S EVER HEARD OF, AFFECTING AS MANY AS 12-MILLION AMERICANS.
IT'S PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE OR P-A-D FOR SHORT.
WHILE ABOUT ONE IN 20 PEOPLE OVER 50 HAVE P-A-D, IT CAN STRIKE YOUNGER ADULTS AS WELL.
FORTY-ONE-YEAR OLD JOE FLOOD LOVES NOTHING MORE THAN PLAYING A QUICK PICK-UP GAME OF SOCCER WITH HIS KIDS.
"When they get older and they run continuously, I will have a hard time keeping up with them."
JOE HAS PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE, A BUILDUP OF PLAQUE IN THE ARTERIES IN HIS LEGS THAT CAUSES A DECREASE IN BLOOD FLOW. WHEN JOE WAS IN HIS MID-TWENTIES, HIS LEGS AND FEET STARTED TO SUDDENLY CRAMP OR GO NUMB.
"All of these symptoms would come as I would try to run, jog, anything that would put a lot of extra effort into my legs."
DOCTOR EMILE MOHLER SAYS, YOUNGER PATIENTS CAN MAKE THE DEADLY MISTAKE OF IGNORING SIGNS OF P-A-D, LIKE LEG PAIN, BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY'VE JUST PULLED A MUSCLE.
"Whenever you have cholesterol building in the leg, you tend to have it in the carotid artery in the neck, so you are at much higher risk for heart attack and stroke." WITHOUT ADEQUATE BLOOD FLOW, TISSUE IN THE LEGS AND FEET CAN DIE AND DEVELOP INTO GANGRENE.
RESEARCHERS BELIEVE SMOKING SPURS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION IN BLOOD VESSELS LEADING TO P-A-D.
FEMALE SMOKERS ARE 17-TIMES MORE LIKELY THAN NON-SMOKERS TO DEVELOP THE CONDITION. WHILE P-A-D AFFECTS MALES AND FEMALES EQUALLY, AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE TWICE AS LIKELY TO DEVELOP IT. THEIR INCREASED RISK MAKES THEM AS VULNERABLE AS SOMEONE WHO HAS SMOKED A PACK OF CIGARETTES A DAY FOR TWENTY YEARS. THE MOST EFFECTIVE TREATMENT IS TO QUIT SMOKING AND EXERCISING TO IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW. EXERCISE IS WHAT'S HELPED JOE.
"My body sort of fixed itself by being in shape."
NOW WITH REGULAR CHECKUPS, P-A-D WON'T KEEP HIM ON THE SIDELINES.
WHILE LIFESTYLE CHANGES LIKE DIET AND EXERCISE OFTEN HELP IMPROVE SYMPTOMS OF THOSE WITH P-A-D, DOCTORS CAN ALSO PRESCRIBE MEDICATION FOR CHOLESTEROL AND BLOOD CLOTS OR PERFORM SURGERY FOR BLOCKAGES.
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