Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Sleep
Leg discomfort and other symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occur when restricted blood arteries decrease the flow of blood to your limbs, may make it difficult to sleep. Certain sleep issues connected to PAD may also cause this.
PAD is most often caused by atherosclerosis, which occurs when lipids and other debris from your circulation accumulate within your arteries. It often affects the blood circulation to your legs, but it may also affect your arms.
Treatment for PAD and any linked illnesses might help you obtain the rest you need.
What Are the Symptoms of PAD?
The symptoms of PAD, also known as peripheral arterial disease, may vary from minor to severe. Some persons with the disease “may have no symptoms at all,” according to Lee Kirksey, MD, a vascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic.
In other circumstances, it leads to issues such as:
Claudication. When you exercise, you may get leg discomfort in your calf or thigh muscles. “Patients typically describe cramping, heaviness, or a charley horse when walking a certain distance,” Kirksey explains. “When they rest, the discomfort… goes away, but when they resume walking a similar distance, the discomfort returns.”
Wounds and other pain. On your toes and feet, you may develop sores or ulcers. Even when you’re not moving, you may have discomfort in your toes or the front of your foot. According to Kirksey, “those symptoms point to very severe peripheral arterial disease.” Individuals experiencing these symptoms may also notice that their legs and feet are chilly, pallid, or numb.
Tissue damage. Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is the stage of PAD that is the most serious. This occurs when the blood supply to your leg is so limited that wounds do not heal. You are in danger of requiring an amputation at this point. Surgery will be required to increase blood flow. Only roughly 1%-2% of PAD patients reach this stage. Amputation will be required for around 30% of them.
How Does PAD Affect Your Sleep?
Depending on the severity of your PAD, it might affect your sleep in three ways:
Pain keeps you up. Mild PAD is unlikely to interfere with your sleep. However, with more severe peripheral artery disease, you experience discomfort even when you are not moving. That implies it might happen at night and wake you awake. Tingling in your toes or foot may also wake you up. Standing up or draping your legs over the edge of your bed aids in the circulation of blood to your lower limbs.
Your sleep is impacted by the PAD-related disorder known as sleep apnea. According to Kirksey, “There is a clear connection between (PAD) and obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes frequent nighttime awakenings.” There are instances when they either don’t breathe at all or breathe very little. All of these things are keeping them from sleeping. He asserts that obese people are more prone to experience apnea.
When you stop breathing for a brief period owing to apnea, your oxygen levels drop. According to him, this generates inflammation in your body, which may harm your heart, blood vessels in your brain, and the arteries going to your legs and limbs. This causes artery scarring, which may lead to blockages and PAD.
You awaken from restless legs syndrome, which is related to PAD. 10% to 20% of PAD patients have this sleep problem.
The most common complaint from patients is that they have trouble keeping their legs motionless in sleep. Additionally, Kirksey adds that “their legs’ movement frequently awakens them up. Restless leg syndrome and peripheral arterial disease are connected, albeit they are not necessarily the same thing.
What Are the Risks?
No matter how it happens, it is terrible to go for a long period without getting enough sleep. “Sleep deprivation is associated with coronary artery disease, heart failure, diabetes, an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and obesity,” claims Kirksey.
If severe leg pain is keeping you up at night, contact your doctor. He announces that “That is a medical emergency.” “They should get in touch with their doctor as soon as possible to set up an appointment.”
If your sleep is often disturbed by restless legs, schedule an appointment as well. Kirksey claims that it “can be related to other neurologic conditions, nerve conditions, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and electrolyte issues.”
Ask your doctor whether you are at risk for PAD regardless of whether you have sleep apnea, especially if you have relatives who have had it.
What Can You Do With PAD to Sleep Better?
If you detect any PAD symptoms, particularly those that keep you up at night, consult your doctor right once. They may examine your condition and provide therapy recommendations.
Exercise may be able to manage a mild case of PAD. Walking is the best option.
A supervised fitness regimen may be recommended by your doctor. This generally comprises walking on a treadmill while being monitored by a nurse, exercise therapist, or physical therapist. They will urge you to continue even if you have leg cramps (claudication).
Most individuals tend to quit walking, claims Kirksey. However, the supervised exercise strategy advises them to endure their pain. This aids the muscles in creating new blood flow routes. And greater sleep at night is likely to follow from that.