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Older adults should be checked for peripheral artery disease

Written by Diane Archer

Millions of Americans have peripheral artery disease; but, older adults and blacks are more at risk for itPeripheral artery disease is a condition in which plaque builds up in your arteries restricting blood flow. It can cause heart attacks and stroke. If left untreated, it can also lead to tissue damage, sores and even gangrene because of insufficient blood flow. So, treatment is critical.

Older people with diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are particularly at risk for peripheral artery disease. It is sometimes called peripheral vascular disease, poor circulation or claudication.

Some people with peripheral artery disease experience pain, numbness, aching or cramping in their legs when they walk or climb steps. Other people have no signs or symptoms whatsoever. But, people over 70 and people over 50 with diabetes or who smoke should ask their doctors to check for it.

Treatments include lifestyle changes, drugs, and sometimes surgery. Talk to your doctor about what treatments are best for you. Doctors may recommend you treat pheripheral artery disease with exercise and diet. And, for people who smoke, quitting can also help significantly.

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