While some people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) experience symptoms, some don’t. In fact, about 1 in 5 people with PAD don’t have any symptoms or fail to recognize their symptoms as PAD.1 Too often, people think their pain is part of the aging process, and they don’t get help as early as they should. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor regularly and ask about PAD.
people who have PAD don’t have any symptoms or fail to recognize their symptoms as PAD
people with PAD have no leg pain
Symptoms of PAD
The classic symptom of PAD is an aching or burning sensation in the muscles (not the joints) of your legs or arms with physical activity, such as walking or hanging up laundry, that stops after you've taken a short break. This is known as intermittent claudication, and it’s more common in women* than men*. However, up to 4 in 10 people with PAD have no leg pain.2
Other symptoms of PAD may include the following:
- Legs that feel tired or heavy
- Discoloration of, or numbness in, the legs or feet
- Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that won't heal
- A slowed walking pace
- Changes in your walk, such as a limp
- Pain while resting
- Pain in the feet or toes that hurts more when they’re elevated
- A change in color, especially redness of the skin on your legs
- Burning or aching feet
- Numbness in the legs
- One leg or foot that feels cooler than the other
- Hair loss that occurs below a certain point on the legs
- Color that is slow to return after pressing down on your leg with your thumb
Track your symptoms
If you think you might have peripheral artery disease (PAD), monitor your symptoms for one week. Then, share your findings with your doctor. But don’t wait too long to make an appointment—the earlier PAD is recognized, the easier it is to treat.
*The term “women” in the context of “women’s cardiovascular health” applies to individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB) who have a female biological reproductive system, which includes a vagina, uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, accessory glands, and external genital organs.
*The term “men” in the context of “cardiovascular health” applies to individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB) who have a male biological reproductive system, which includes a penis, scrotum, testes, epididymis, vas deferens, prostate, and seminal vesicles.
For more than 20 years, Milton Unick lived with debilitating pain in his legs—pain that prevented him from performing typical daily activities and hindered his quality of life. Little did Milton know this crippling leg pain was a warning sign of something even more serious—a future heart attack.