KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Approximately 10 million Americans over age 50 have a dangerous disease that increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke, but half of them may not realize they have it.

Peripheral Arterial Disease is a condition that affects your circulatory system in which fatty components like calcium can build up in your arteries and cause a major blockage.

Those with a history of high cholesterol, diabetes, and a lack of physical activity can be at the most risk for PAD. The term, Atherosclerosis is a disease that causes certain deposits in your system to not break down easily causing thickening and build-up on the inner artery.

Vascular Surgeon Dr. Stephen Tonks with Premier Surgical Vascular Center explains the signs and symptoms one might experience with PAD.

“Some of the most common symptoms we see is pain in the legs when you walk,” Dr. Tonks says.

Others include is painful cramping in the hips and thighs, as well as leg numbness or weakness.

The main way Premier Surgical can help with your diagnosis is with an ultrasound that can take less than ten minutes.

There are certain medications your doctor might prescribe depending on your age and severity level. These medications are prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming and narrowing the arteries even further if they are seeing blockage.

However, Dr. Tonks says that a simple change in their everyday lifestyle.

“The good news is the most common treatment is simply lifestyle modification such as managing your cholesterol levels, quitting smoking, and walking,” he says.

He even credits walking to be the most important thing you can do with PAD.

For more information and to seek treatment for PAD, visit the Premier Surgical Vascular website or call them at (865) 588-8229.