Males and females are different from the day they're born and those differences continue throughout our lives – especially as we become more vulnerable to the diseases of aging. One example is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is caused by narrowing or blockages of arteries in the legs. Having this disease puts you at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke so it's worth paying attention if you experience pain in your legs when you're walking or climbing the stairs. That pain is a major PAD symptom.
Although eight million men and women in this country have PAD, women experience it differently from men, according to a study in the current issue of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers from Northwestern University observed 380 men and women with PAD for four years, measuring their calf muscle and leg strength. Because women generally have less muscle in their calves (a common site for PAD), they are appear to be more likely to become disabled by PAD, the researchers say.
But a diagnosis of PAD is no reason to give up. The disease can often be treated by changes in diet and exercise.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of PAD include:
- Pain and cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after activity
- Numbness or weakness in your legs
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially if the other leg is not as cold
- Sores that don't heal on your toes, feet or legs that won't heal
- Shiny skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
If you experience any of these, see your doctor to find out more about how to treat PAD. For more information, click here.