It's a condition that can leave your legs tired and cramped. Peripheral arterial disease is a hardening of the arteries that slows blood travel around the body. "Usually if you sit and rest for awhile it will get better and then you can get up and go again and then it will start again," says Lee Memorial Health System surgeon, Woodrow Yeaney.
People who smoke or have a family history of this disease are at an increased risk. For those who aren't, there are ways to prevent it. "Diabetes. Control your blood sugars. High blood pressure is very important: control your blood pressure," suggests Dr. Yeaney.
Leg cramping, sores that won't heal, even skin discoloration are all symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. "You don't necessarily need a surgery if you have the problem, but you really do want to modify your risk factors and that can keep you from having it progress."
Dr. Yeaney will work with patients to revise their diet and exercise habits in order to treat the condition. "We do recommend a walking program usually. Try and walk as much as you can everyday," he says. "We usually recommend a baby aspirin a day. We recommend that you are usually on some kind of statin medication to control it. Even if your cholesterol is normal: nowadays, they usually recommend you be on a statin medication if the disease is severe enough."
Peripheral arterial disease often surfaces in older adults. That's why he encourages everyone, of all ages, to take charge of their health before it's too late.