There are many common forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that people are aware of.

This includes strokes and coronary heart disease which can lead to heart attacks and angina.

One form of CVD people might not know much about is peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Some symptoms include hair loss on legs and feet, numbness or weakness in the legs and brittle, slow-growing toenails, reports the NHS.

But there is one sign of PAD Brits are being urged to keep an eye out for that could save your life, according to a heart specialist and expert at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Edinburgh.

What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?

The NHS explains that PAD is a common condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles.

It adds: “Many people with PAD have no symptoms. However, some develop a painful ache in their legs when they walk, which usually disappears after a few minutes' rest. The medical term for this is "intermittent claudication".

“The pain can range from mild to severe, and usually goes away after a few minutes when you rest your legs.”

The Northern Echo: Have you heard of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) before?Have you heard of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) before? (Image: Getty)

The health service says both legs can be affected at the same time, although the pain may be worse in one leg.

This lesser-known symptom of PAD could reduce chances of a heart attack

A pain in the leg due to PAD means a person could have “three to five times" higher risk of having a heart attack.

According to The Mirror, David Newby, BHF John Wheatley Professor of Cardiology at the BHF Centre of Research Excellence, said: “If you get a gripping, cramping sensation in your calves when you are walking, it might be worth seeing your doctor, as that can be a marker of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). It’s most common in smokers and people who have diabetes.”

Heart specialist Patrick Coughlin further explained to the BHF: “People are at an increased risk as they age. About one in five people over 60 in the UK have some degree of PAD.

“The same things that raise your risk of heart disease and stroke – including smoking, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure – also raise your risk of PAD. In particular, we are seeing a rise in PAD as a result of increased cases of diabetes. It affects both men and women and sometimes it can run in families.”

He added: "If you have intermittent claudication (limping or pain when you walk), your risk of heart attack is three to five times higher than normal.

"So we would start by trying to reduce your heart attack risk, for example by stopping smoking, testing for (and treating) high blood pressure and diabetes, and taking a blood thinner (such as aspirin) and a statin."