As more studies are conducted, mounting evidence is showing a relationship between peripheral artery disease (PAD) and sleep. PAD is often caused by atherosclerosis, which is when there’s a buildup of fats and other debris from the bloodstream in the arteries.
The symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) can range from mild to severe. Some patients may report no symptoms at all, while others can suffer from a range of painful issues. Leg pain is the most reported symptom that can lead to loss of sleep. PAD most commonly affects the legs, but other arteries may also be affected, such as the arms, neck, or kidneys.
The leg pain and cramping, called claudication, causes severe pain and cramping when walking. The pain is usually located in the calf muscles and is relieved by rest. It occurs due to the muscle needing more oxygen during the exercise.
Usually, the arteries can increase blood flow and increase the amount of oxygen going to the exercised leg. In someone with PAD, the blood vessels cannot meet the increased demand for oxygen, which leads to the muscles being overly saturated with lactic acid.
Research has shown that the range of symptoms associated with PAD may cause sleep disturbances in some people. For those who experience mild symptoms, doctors often recommend a supervised exercise program. This usually consists of walking on a treadmill while supervised by a health care professional. If leg cramping or pain in the legs starts, they will continue to advise the patient to keep walking.
A regular exercise routine has shown to be helpful in the management of PAD and sleep-related disturbances. For those with claudication, it can help open alternative small vessels, and the limitation in walking often improves. Walking for 35 to 50 minutes three or four times a week has been reviewed with positive outcomes, including a reduction in cardiovascular events and improved quality of life.
Greatest Risk Factors
One of the most significant risks for PAD is smoking. Others include diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney problems, and high blood cholesterol. Approximately 155 million people worldwide have PAD, and it becomes more common with age. To help prevent PAD, researchers suggest quitting smoking, regularly exercising, and managing high blood pressure and cholesterol.
If sleep disruptions become troublesome, doctors recommend seeking treatment. Sleep loss over a long period is associated with coronary artery disease, heart failure, diabetes, and an increased risk of stroke, obesity, and heart attack.