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PAD vs. varicose veins.

Q: Is peripheral artery disease associated with varicose veins?

A: There is no direct association between peripheral artery disease (PAD) and varicose veins, but they do share risk factors and this means they frequently occur simultaneously.

PAD is a condition of the arteries caused by a build up of cholesterol plaque in the arterial walls. This build up narrows the arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis), impeding blood flow from the heart and possibly causing cramping pain in the lower legs while you are walking. Varicose veins develop due to a problem with tiny valves in the veins of the lower legs. These valves ensure that the blood in your veins flows towards your heart instead of backwards. However, age can weaken them to the extent they begin to leak and allow blood to flow in the wrong direction, back towards your feet. The blood pools in the veins in your lower legs, causing the veins to become large and knotted. The veins can cause your legs to ache and feel heavy.

Age is a risk factor for both PAD and varicose veins, as are genetics and obesity. Maintaining a normal weight and getting plenty of physical activity can help mitigate both conditions. Keep in mind too that PAD can red-flag atherosclerosis in the coronary (heart) arteries, so follow your doctor's guidance when it comes to atherosclerosis risk factors (these include high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and smoking).

Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD Geriatric Medicine

Rosanne M, Leipzig, MD, PhD

Editor-in-Chief

Geriatric Medicine

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Title Annotation:ASK THE EXPERTS
Author:Leipzig, Rosanne M.
Publication:Focus on Healthy Aging
Date:Aug 1, 2018
Words:254
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