Shop window disease: Fighting the pain

After a few steps comes the pain – patients with window shattering are severely limited in their range of motion and quality of life. Resting, however, does not help.
The common name sounds as if it is meant to target a pronounced passion for shopping. However, shop window disease is not a venial vice, but a serious cardiological disease. Not only does it make it impossible to walk more than a few steps, because severe pain then occurs and forces a break. In addition, in the long term it can lead to a leg amputation and increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Scientifically, the disease is called intermittent claudication. It is caused by arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and leads to stenoses (narrowing) in the arteries, which in turn cause circulatory problems and a painful lack of oxygen.

Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and a disturbed lipid metabolism are considered to be favourable factors, and a genetic predisposition can also play a role. “If the so-called shop window disease is not treated, it regularly gets worse,” explains cardiologist Dr Rainer Ruf from the Ambulantes Centrum Berlin. “Sooner or later, the pain also occurs at rest. Then not only do the chances of a complete cure decrease, the necessary therapy steps also become more costly. An operation to insert a stent or a vasodilator angioplasty is often unavoidable.

Rejecting the beginnings

It is therefore important to take countermeasures as early as possible. The most suitable lever for this is lifestyle, and this includes a healthy diet and abstaining from nicotine, but also and especially exercise. In the early stages of intermittent claudication, targeted walking training is particularly recommended, as has been confirmed in recent studies.

The reason: movement causes more collaterals (arterial branches) to form in the legs, which can transport oxygen. So anyone who notices recurring pain when walking should by no means avoid this activity, but rather extend it. There is no gentler way to reduce window shopper’s disease.

However, it is better not to do without a medical examination, because pain in the legs can also have other causes – and better safe than sorry.