If you have leg pain when you walk or climb stairs, or if you experience leg cramps or fatigue during exercise, be sure to tell your doctor. These can be symptoms of a condition called peripheral artery disease.

PAD is caused by fatty deposits that build up in the walls of your arteries and restrict the circulation of blood and oxygen. When this occurs in arteries leading to your heart, it’s called coronary artery disease, but when it occurs in the arteries that lead to your lower body, it’s PAD. Older adults, smokers and people with diabetes are at increased risk for this condition.

Leg pain that occurs during walking and disappears with rest is the most common symptom of PAD. This is a sign that your leg muscles aren’t getting enough blood to meet their needs. In addition to leg pain and cramps, other symptoms of PAD include coldness, numbness or tingling, and changes in skin color in the lower legs or feet.

Most commonly found in arteries in the legs, PAD can be quite dangerous if left untreated, even leading to gangrene or amputation.

PAD can be easily diagnosed with an ankle-brachial index test that can be done in your doctor’s office to check the blood flow to your lower limbs. This test compares the blood pressure in your legs with that in your arms.

Treatment may include lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, getting regular exercise, eating a low-fat diet or controlling diabetes and high blood pressure.  Making a lifestyle change could ease your discomfort and help keep PAD from getting worse. Medication may also be used to reduce blood clotting and lower cholesterol.

However, when lifestyle changes and/or medication aren’t enough, you may need angioplasty or even surgery, especially if your leg hurts even when you’re resting.  During…