Claudication is a symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD) characterized by cramping of the legs. It is caused by narrowed or blocked arteries, leading to restricted blood flow that causes the leg muscles to contract . It is a significant warning sign for increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Risk Factors for Claudication
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of claudication:
- High cholesterol levels in the blood
- High blood pressure
- Family history of heart disease
Symptoms of Claudication
The main symptom of claudication is cramping in the legs during sustained exercise that subsides while resting or standing evenly on both feet.
Treatment of Claudication
Treatment of claudication depends on the severity of the condition. Doctors at Houston Methodist will initially treat patients with medications that either dilate the arteries or thin the blood to restore normal circulation to the legs.
Serious cases of claudication will sometimes require angioplasty. In this procedure, cardiologists thread a catheter through to the artery where a balloon is inflated to widen the opening and improve circulation. Sometimes, the doctor will place a stent, or a small, mesh tube, in the artery to keep the passage clear.