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Cramped Legs Could Point to Heart Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition characterized by narrowing of the arteries due to fatty deposits and plaque. This restricts blood circulation, mainly to the legs and feet, causing cramping of the legs through the buttocks. A person with PAD has an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and transient ischemic attack. People who are hypertensive, have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, have had a heart attack or stroke, are diabetic and who smoke are at a higher risk of getting PAD.

PAD does not always manifest symptoms, but in most cases, patients feel cramping and fatigue in their legs, thighs and buttocks. The pain may be heightened when walking, and may be more pronounced at night, but may disappear when the feet are rested.

Lifestyle modifications and medication are the standard treatment for PAD. If the patient has other ailments related to PAD, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, these ailments need to be addressed in order to treat PAD. Patients will be asked to stop smoking, eat a healthy diet and exercise.

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Welcome to our UpToDate library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

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