LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A potentially deadly, yet very common condition called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, can be a warning sign of a stroke, heart attack or other very serious problems. PAD is treatable, and all it takes is a simple test to help assess your risk.
For years, Rita Smith and her dogs walked a mile around her neighborhood every day. But four years ago, at the age of 54, she was sidelined with pain.
"I was walking and I felt like I couldn't walk anymore. It felt like a vice would just come up and grab onto my leg like that and it just...I was powerless to do anything the pain was so bad I'd have to stop walking," Smith said.
She was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease.
"It's a disease that forms blockages in your arteries that supply blood flow to the legs and blood to other organs but especially to the legs," explained Dr. Eugen Ivan, Comanche County Memorial Hospital cardiologist.
Much like a blockage in your heart, a blockage in your leg can increase the risk of a heart attack and a stroke or even amputation. Dr. Ivan says patients often mistake symptoms of PAD for something else. He says pain when walking or exercising is usually the first red flag. Combine that pain with a certain bad habit and you may very well be suffering from PAD.
"It affects mostly people who are current smokers or have been smokers at some point in their life, also diabetes will raise your risk. Especially a combination of diabetes and smoking, as well as high cholesterol and BP will raise risk of developing PAD," Dr. Ivan said.
Other risk factors include things like being over the age of 50 and being African American. PAD can be diagnosed in a doctor's office by comparing the blood pressure in your arms and legs. If the top number is different, there might be a problem. PAD can be treated with medicine and even surgery if necessary. Dr. Ivan says the most effective treatment is lifestyle modifications.
So, start eating healthy, control your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and of course quit smoking.
In other Heart Month news, mark your calendar for the healthy heart screenings, which will be held on Feb. 29 and March 1 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center.
The free screening includes an electrocardiogram, heart risk assessment, waist circumference, height, weight and body mass test. For only $20, you can receive lab tests that include your A1C, good, bad and total cholesterol and triglycerides. To make an appointment, call 580-585-5406.