Q. My toenails and leg hair don't seem to grow as fast as they used to. Is this age-related or is it something else?
It could be caused by something harmless, but it is possible that it is a little-known symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If I were you, I'd go to a doctor for a checkup. Better safe than sorry.
PAD also known as peripheral vascular disease usually strikes the legs, but can affect the blood vessels to the head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. Chances of getting PAD increase with age. About one in five people over the age of 65 has it. You get PAD when plaque accumulates in your arteries. Plaque is made of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the blood.
When plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis impedes the flow of blood. If blood flow to your legs is blocked, you can suffer from pain and numbness. It also can increase the risk of infection. If the flow of blood is too low, tissue in the affected area can die. In severe cases, a leg might have to be amputated. And, if you are diagnosed with PAD, you face a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Because PAD reduces blood flow, there is a risk of blood clots. To help prevent clots, your doctor may prescribe a medication such as clopidogrel (Plavix).
The disease may start with damage of inner layers