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Intermittent Claudication

Overview :

Claudication comes from the Latin word that means "to limp," and the condition is characterized by intermittent pain in the leg muscles. Poor circulation produces the pain. The legs do not receive the oxygen-rich blood supply needed for activities like walking and exercising. The decreased blood flow is caused by the narrowing of arteries that bring blood to the leg and foot.

The leg pain produced by claudication is usually experienced as cramping in the thighs, calves, hips, and feet. The pain stops several minutes after the person rests, but returns when the person performs activities that use the leg muscles. If untreated, claudication is no longer intermittent and occurs when a person is resting.

People age 50 or older are at risk of intermittent claudication. The risk increases with age. Statistically, 5% of men and 2.5% of women experience symptoms of this condition, according to the Vascular Disease Foundation (VDF). Many people with this condition have cholesterol plaque build-up in the leg's arteries. Smoking raises the risk, as do high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, and diabetes.

Intermittent claudication is the main symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is also known as peripheral vascular disease, and or occlusive arterial disease. Intermittent claudication is an early symptom of the condition that affects peripheral arteries, those blood vessels located outside the heart. PAD is caused by arteriosclerosis, the narrowing and hardening of the arteries.

Women with diabetes are 7.6 times as likely to experience PAD as those without diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Furthermore, intermittent claudication is related to a two to three times increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiac failure in men with diabetes, according to the association.

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