Don’t ignore your leg pain — it could be a sign of deadly heart disease


Those wanting to get a leg up on their heart health should pay attention to pain in their lower limbs.

While some may chalk up pain in their calves from walking to aging or muscle strain, it could be a symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

PAD can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, or critical limb ischemia, which causes tissues to die during injury or infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.

PAD is often caused by a buildup of fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits that buildup in the arteries. This process, called atherosclerosis, reduces blood supply to the leg muscles which can lead to pain and cramping.

As many as 6.5 million people aged 40 and older have PAD in the US, according to the CDC.

Risk factors for PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol and being over 60 years old. 


A pain in your leg could be a warning sign for a deadly heart disease that could lead to heart attack or stroke.
A pain in your leg could be a warning sign for a deadly heart disease that could lead to heart attack or stroke.
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Leg pain can mean danger for heart health, and those with leg cramps should consider visiting their doctor.
Leg pain can be a sign of poor heart health, and those with leg cramps should consider visiting their doctor.
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“The classic symptom of PAD is pain in the legs with physical activity, such as walking, that gets better after rest,” explains the CDC’s website. 

“However, up to 4 in 10 people with PAD have no leg pain. Symptoms of pain, aches, or cramps with walking (claudication) can happen in the buttock, hip, thigh, or calf.”

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Next time you feel pain in your legs, evaluate whether or not you may be at risk for the potentially deadly condition. 

“If you get a gripping, cramping sensation in your calves when you are walking, it might be worth seeing your doctor, as that can be a marker of PAD,” Dr. Professor David Newby, from the British Heart Foundation, told The Sun.


PAD is most common among smokers and those with diabetes.
PAD is most common among smokers and those with diabetes. Leg cramps while walking are one of several symptoms of the disease.
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Other potential symptoms include muscle weakness, smooth shiny skin, skin that is cool to the touch, cold or numb toes, skin ulcers that don’t heal and decreased pulses in the feet. 

Just as PAD can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, adopting healthier habits can help prevent PAD. This includes not smoking, getting regular exercise, and getting high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes under control, says the CDC. 

Treatment for PAD includes taking aspirin or another antiplatelet medicine as well as medicine to lower cholesterol. Patients may require surgery for blocked arteries as well as a supervised exercise program. 



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