Chronic leg pain is sometimes a symptom of a cardiovascular issue like venous insufficiency, peripheral arterial disease, or heart disease. If you have leg pain or swelling that keeps you up at night, make an appointment with Pankaj Lal, MD, an expert cardiologist practicing at Capital Cardiac Care in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Dr. Lal examines you thoroughly to diagnose the root cause of your leg pain, and offers customized treatment plans to resolve your pain and improve your health. Call or book an appointment online today.

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How is leg pain or swelling related to my heart?

When your heart doesn’t pump as efficiently as it should, or the veins and arteries in your legs are clogged or weakened from a condition called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), your circulation may not move blood around your legs effectively, which can cause leg pain and swelling. PAD can cause fluid to build up in your legs, leading to edema (a medical term for swelling) and pain.

Another potential issue is venous insufficiency, which is when the valves in the blood vessels in your legs don’t open and close properly. This leads to varicose veins, as well as leg pain and fatigue.

What is PAD?

PAD is a condition where the arteries in your extremities narrow and reduce your circulation. The major symptoms of PAD include leg pain, cramping, and fatigue, which are often mistakenly linked to other issues. PAD increases your risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

PAD is most often caused by atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque on the insides of your arteries. Not only does this reduce your circulation and make your heart work harder to move blood through your body, but it also increases your risk of developing blood clots.

How is the cause of leg pain diagnosed?

Dr. Lal reviews your medical history and assesses your risk for PAD and other cardiovascular conditions that can cause leg pain. He checks your pulse in your ankles and looks for a noticeable temperature difference between your feet, lower legs, and the rest of your body. He also uses ultrasounds to create images of your arteries and veins to check for blockages.

If necessary, Dr. Lal orders additional diagnostic tests, including:

  • Blood panels
  • Stress tests
  • Electrocardiograms (EKGs)

How is leg pain treated?

Treatment for leg pain depends on the issue causing your discomfort. For example, if you have PAD, Dr. Lal provides lifestyle coaching to improve your overall cardiovascular health. He also can prescribe medications to improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. He may need to perform procedures to open your arteries like angioplasty or stent placement to improve your peripheral circulation.

If you live in Montgomery County and have leg pain you suspect could be related to your heart health, call or make an appointment online today.