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PAD: What you don’t know can hurt you

Do you have peripheral artery disease (PAD)? Most people don’t even know what it is, according to a study in the journal Circulation. PAD occurs when cholesterol and other fats accumulate in the walls of arteries that supply blood to the legs, resulting in narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow.

Many people with the disease experience no symptoms—the most common is pain or cramping in the legs—or think it’s a natural part of aging.

In a survey of about 2,500 people over age 50, only one in four respondents knew that having PAD increases the risk for heart attack and stroke; even fewer knew PAD can lead to amputation and death.