Tiredness while walking and cramping or pain in the lower extremities are usually signs that you may have PAD or peripheral artery disease.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the disease often goes untreated because doctors can mistake it for something else. Hence, it is of great importance to understand the signs and symptoms in order to help your doctor detect it on time.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head but most commonly in the arteries of the legs.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition may be reducing blood flow to your heart and brain, as well as your legs. People who have PAD are at a much higher risk for a heart attack or stroke.
The main causes of peripheral artery disease include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, diabetes, and not being physically active.
Peripheral artery disease symptoms include:
- Leg pain that usually comes with the onset of exercise then stops when you rest
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
- A change in the color of your legs
- Shiny skin on your legs
- Hair loss or slower hair growth
- Wounds that heal poorly
- Slower growth of your toenails
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Some people, though, do not experience any pain or symptoms. This can happen when the body makes new blood vessels grow around the blockages.
In most of the cases, PAD is misdiagnosed, but luckily there are some ways in which your doctor can see whether you are affected by this disease. For instance, the doctor can test your ankle-brachial index, which compares the blood pressure at your feet with the blood pressure in your upper arm. Besides that, the doctor can also perform imaging tests like angiography, CT or MRI scan.
Treatment and prevention
It’s important to note that treating PAD and preventing PAD are very similar. However, the best solution is to prevent PAD from occurring in the first place, so you will need to quit smoking, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check, eat well and exercise on a regular basis.
Below are some natural alternatives that can help you treat or prevent PAD and improve blood circulation.
The active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. It stimulates the heart, regulating the blood flow and strengthening the arteries and capillaries. It will not only get the blood pumped around your body, but it will strengthen your heart, and clear your arteries. Also, capsaicin relieves symptoms linked to poor blood circulation including cold feet and hands, pain, headaches, and tingling sensations in the legs.
Ginger is a common kitchen ingredient which is highly beneficial for stimulating blood circulation. The regular consumption of ginger prevents the formation of blood clots in the body, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This root is loaded with gingerols and zingerone, which have a warming effect on the body, and consequently, improves blood circulation.
Ginkgo biloba is another all-round circulation booster. It is most widely know for its ability to improve memory, due to its ability to increase blood flow to the brain. In Germany, ginkgo is used by physicians to treat varicose veins and poor circulation. It can be found a form of capsules or pills.
Horse chestnut herb is widely used, especially for treatment of poor circulation and varicose veins. The active compound in horse chestnut is called escin, which not only reduce inflammation but also strengthens the capillary walls.
Fish oil is another healthy and natural way to solve your circulation problems. It can be of great help as it removes fat deposits from the arterial walls, which leads to proper blood circulation. Moreover, fish oil raises HDL or good cholesterol in the body. You can consume it by eating fish at least once a week, or you can take dietary supplements.
Drink more water
Adequate water intake is essential for proper body function. It hydrates your entire body, stimulates digestion, and improves nutrient supply to the cells. Water also alleviates elimination. You should drink at least eight glasses of water daily, but if you work out, then you need to drink even more.
- Do not sit or stand in the same position for too long. Take regular breaks every couple of hours.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- If you smoke, it is essential to quit.
- Avoid eating foods that are high in saturated fats.
- Limit your salt consumption.
- Elevate your legs and hands to increase circulation in these body parts.
- Eat fruits rich in vitamin C as it helps keep the lining of the arteries strong.
- Eat fresh fruits and leafy vegetables that have high levels of antioxidants in them.
- Do dry-skin brushing to remove dead skin cells and improve circulation.
- Acupressure and acupuncture also facilitate smooth circulation.