BILLINGS - September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month. St. Vincent Healthcare doctors say the symptoms of PAD can often go unnoticed, but that it can be a serious condition.

PAD is a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. It can be most common in people's legs and feet.

Symptoms of PAD include leg pain or cramping that happens with physical activity. 

The American Heart Association says Peripheral Artery Disease affects over 8.5 million U.S. adults.

Cardiac Rehab Patient Gary Waddell said it was his friends and family who first noticed something wasn't quite right. 

"I didn't feel that bad before I went in for my stress test, but they all said I was a little pale looking, not active like I usually am," Waddell said. "So just follow their advice."

"We're seeing it in younger populations, especially with COVID, people are more sedentary," Cardiopulmonary Program Coordinator at St. Vincent Healthcare Mandy Frickel said. "They are not getting out as much. Their eating habits are poorer. We're seeing a higher prevalence of this, especially with stress and depression and all of those risk factors that precede heart disease and peripheral vascular disease."

More information about PAD can be found here.

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