(NEW YORK) -- New research suggests a disease that affects the legs could be a warning sign for potential heart trouble.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects about 9 million Americans over 50, putting them at risk for heart attack, according to the Vascular Disease Foundation.
PAD arises when arteries in the legs become blocked with fatty deposits. The blockage, in turn, causes reduced blood flow to the legs signaled by muscle pain when walking. If there are blocked arteries in the legs, it is likely that one might also have blocked arteries elsewhere in the body, including the heart.
"Often people think leg discomfort or slow-healing sores are just a part of aging, yet they can be signs of a serious disease," Dr. Joseph Caporusso, chair of the PAD Coalition, said in a news release.
Caporusso noted that early detection and treatment can reduce the devastating effects of PAD and improve cardiovascular health.
The Vascular Disease Foundation suggests adults age 70 and older with PAD symptoms or individuals under age 50 with diabetes or a history of smoking should be tested for PAD.
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