Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery or arterial disease, also known as PAD, is a circulation problem where the blood flow to your extremities is restricted. PAD is caused by narrowing of the arteries that deliver the blood to your arms and legs. Fatty deposits accumulate causing atherosclerosis and reducing this blood flow.

Symptoms

Some people have no symptoms of PAD, but many suffer from leg pain especially when walking. The pain or cramping starts with activity but usually eases after resting. When the leg pain, or claudication, is severe, it can be hard to walk, work or do other types of activities.

Besides claudication, other symptoms can include:
  • Leg weakness or numbness
  • Foot or leg coldness
  • Change in color
  • Sores on your feet, toes or legs that won’t heal
  • Hair loss on feet and legs

Treating Peripheral Arterial Disease

If you have leg pain or weakness, visit your foot doctor right away. PAD can cause complications such as heart attack, stroke and critical limb ischemia that can lead to gangrene and amputation.

To diagnose peripheral arterial disease, we will do a physical exam to check your pulse and blood pressure. The Ankle-brachial index (ABI) test is useful as it compares the blood pressure in your arm with the blood pressure in your ankle. Other tests such as ultrasound and an angiogram can confirm our diagnosis.

Treating Peripheral Arterial Disease

The goals of PAD treatment are to manage the pain and to stop atherosclerosis from progressing. Lifestyle changes may accomplish both of these goals, with the most important change is to quit smoking.

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