What are your legs telling you about your heart?

You’ve just walked upstairs, and those painful leg cramps are back again. Never mind - a few minutes sit down, and you’ll be just fine, right?

If that sounds familiar, it makes sense to ask yourself what your legs may be telling you.

Many people don’t realise it, but such intermittent leg pain can be linked to heart disease - both conditions can be caused by narrowed arteries, and it’s a pretty good bet that if you have narrowed arteries in your legs, the same could be true of your heart.

Here we explore the connection between leg pain and heart health and discover how you can reduce your risk of serious health issues.


Legs and heart: What’s the connection?

Narrowed arteries in our legs - known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) - happen when cholesterol and fatty deposits build up inside the vessels, making it hard for the heart to pump blood to reach them. We feel pain when our legs don’t receive enough oxygen as a result.

PAD can build up over a lifetime, and symptoms may not become obvious until later in life.

This type of narrowing of the arteries also causes the most common form of heart disease, known as Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) or Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). If you have PAD, you’re more at risk of this type of heart disease - and it works the other way around, too.


Over four million Australians live with a heart or circulatory disease - Coronary Heart Disease being the principal diagnosis in about 160,000 hospitalisations and the leading single cause of death in Australia.

Studies show that approximately 20% of the Australian population age 65 years and over have PAD, and 50% of people with PAD present no symptoms, leading to significant under-diagnosis and under-treatment.

So don't ignore your leg pain - it could be sending you a lifesaving message.


How do I know if my leg pain is caused by PAD?

Leg pain can have many causes, from muscle strains to sciatica. But the key sign that your discomfort may be a symptom of PAD is pain in the calves, thighs or buttocks that starts when you’re active and goes away when you rest.

This type of intermittent pain, called claudication, can range from mild to severe and usually affects both legs, although one may be more painful than the other.

Other tell tale signs of PAD may include:


What should I do if I think I have PAD? 

If you think you may have PAD, by far the most important thing is to tell a healthcare professional at the first opportunity, so treatment can start as soon as possible.

Early detection of PAD is important so you can begin the right treatments before the disease becomes severe enough to lead to serious complications like a heart attack or stroke.

There is no cure for PAD, but lifestyle changes and medication can help reduce both the symptoms and your risk of heart disease.


What can I do to help myself?

The two most important lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of narrowed arteries developing or worsening in your legs and heart are to stop smoking and increase your exercise levels.

Stopping smoking is key to reducing your risk of developing PAD or preventing it getting worse, and evidence suggests that regular exercise helps reduce both the severity and frequency of PAD symptoms, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease.

If you’re already experiencing PAD symptoms, one of the best exercises you can do is walking. It's normally recommended that you walk for as long as you can until the pain becomes intolerable, then rest until it goes away. Repeat this until you’ve walked for 30 minutes in total, and try to do it several times a week. The pain may be uncomfortable, but over time your symptoms should improve.

Regular use of Revitive can help relieve these symptoms. See if Revitive is right for you.

Other lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of developing heart disease include:

How Revitive can help

Revitive Circulation Booster is a range of medical devices clinically proven to boost circulation in the legs and feet, helping to relieve the symptoms of PAD.


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