Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Poor circulation in the legs

Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH

Q. My legs hurt if I walk too much, especially going uphill or taking several flights of stairs. My internist told me that it was probably poor circulation. How can I be sure—and is there anything I can do about it?

A. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the medical term for poor circulation in the arteries that deliver blood from the heart to the legs. Based on a person's medical history alone, it can be very challenging to tell whether leg pain is caused by PAD, by back problems, or by hip or knee arthritis.

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