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When Aches in Legs, Thighs or Hips Signal Hardened Blood Vessels

January 03, 2020

As we age, our body tends to wear down. We feel aches and pains that we’ve never felt before and with no obvious reason.

For almost 12 million people in America, the pain, aching and fatigue they feel in their thighs, hips and leg muscles may be from poor blood circulation caused by hardened blood vessels, also known as claudication. This condition is commonly known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and the number of cases is expected to increase in the U.S. and worldwide. If left untreated, PAD cases can get worse over time and result in limb loss. Additionally, people with PAD are often at higher risk for stroke and developing coronary artery disease.

Cigarette smokers, diabetic patients, people with cardiovascular diseases or adults over the age of 70 are all vulnerable to the condition, but there are solutions.

There are several ways to test for PAD. If you are experiencing pain in your legs while walking, a simple treadmill exercise can detect levels of PAD. The test detects the blood pressure in your ankles, which determines if the muscles in your legs are receiving sufficient circulation.

Walking a minimum of three times per week for 30 to 60 minutes can help prevent blood vessels from hardening. A healthy and active lifestyle helps reduce the risk of PAD, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup), and other cardiovascular diseases. The Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) offers 60-minute exercise sessions with registered nurses and cardiovascular exercise physiologists who provide assessments, stretches and exercise evaluations with aerobic therapy over the course of 12 weeks.

When PAD is in its later stages, or if other treatment options have failed, endovascular or surgical treatment may be required. HOCC offers a state of the art hybrid procedure room that allows providers to treat complex vascular diseases with a minimally invasive approach. This procedure enhances the recovery time and allows patients to go home sooner.

Dr. Parth Shah is the director of vascular and endovascular services at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. For more information on peripheral arterial disease and other cardiovascular diseases, click here. To find a doctor, call 833.444.0014