Often described as poor circulation in the legs, Peripheral Artery Disease, or P.A.D., is a serious condition that more than doubles your risk of heart attack or stroke. 8 million people have P.A.D. People with diabetes and smokers are more likely to develop it. However, because many people have no symptoms at all, only your doctor can diagnose P.A.D.

Poor circulation in the arteries of your legs is serious enough. But that’s not all. It may also be a warning sign of a similar problem in the arteries leading to your heart or your brain.

When the arteries in your legs or any other part of your body begin to narrow from plaque, the flow of oxygen-rich blood is restricted. (Plaque is a buildup of cholesterol and other materials in the walls of your arteries.) If the plaque ruptures, microscopic particles in the blood called platelets can clump together, causing clots to form. When these clots block the flow of blood to your heart or your brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.

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