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Leg Pain Could Mean Blocked Arteries


Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, impacts millions of Americans, but many don’t know it.

PAD is a circulatory condition in which arteries become clogged with fatty deposits called plaque, reducing blood flow to the extremities, most commonly the legs.

Dr. Syed Ahmed, interventional cardiologist with Morris Hospital Cardiovascular Specialists, is trained in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of PAD. He says risk for developing PAD increases beginning at age 50 and for those who have other risk factors.

“Patients who smoke, or have high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure are most at risk,” Dr. Ahmed says.

The most common symptom of PAD is muscle pain in the lower extremities during activity that subsides with rest. Additional symptoms include sores or wounds, a lower temperature of one extremity compared to the other, poor nail or hair growth, or color changes in the skin.

Once diagnosed, there are multiple treatment options.

“We start with medicine to control high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, and to improve blood flow,” Dr. Ahmed says. “If this fails, we’ll try opening the blockage with a balloon and/or a stent. We also perform a special procedure called an atherectomy, which cleans out the plaque. The last resort is surgery.”

If left untreated, PAD is potentially life-threatening.

“Prevention and early diagnosis are key,” Dr. Ahmed says. “We recommend that patients at high risk for PAD ask their primary doctor for a referral to a cardiologist, especially if they exhibit symptoms. If they are high risk but don’t show symptoms, they should have a PAD screening, which we offer at Morris Hospital.”

To check your risk for PAD, take Morris Hospital’s free, online risk assessment at

For more information, please contact:

Morris Hospital Cardiovascular Specialists

151 W. High St.

Morris, IL 60450