What is Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) describes blocked arteries outside of the heart. It is a buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries, which limits or stops the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your limbs.
If blood cannot reach your feet, it may cause pain while walking and damage to the skin and muscles in your legs and feet. Peripheral arterial disease also puts you at greater risk of stroke or heart attack, so it is important to know your risk.
PAD is most typically seen in the lower extremities.
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Risks of PAD
- High Cholesterol
- History of Heart Attack
- High Blood Pressure
- Over the age of 50
Symptoms of PAD
- Sores or Wounds
- Skin color change
- Lower Temperature
- Poor nail growth
PAD often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are ignored because they are similar to the aging process. Follow these critical steps in diagnosing peripheral arterial disease.
- Consider your risk factors and symptoms.
- Answer three key questions.
- Do you have cramping or pain in your lower legs when walking?
- Does the pain go away with rest?
- Do you have numbness, tingling, or burning in your legs?
- Ask your doctor if you have PAD.
- Show your provider your feet
- Skin changes like wounds, sores, or discoloration
- Temperature variation in one leg compared to the other
- Pulse in your legs and feet to determine if there is sufficient blood flow
- Ankle-brachial index (ABI), which compares blood pressure in the arm and leg
- Doppler ultrasound may be needed, which measures blood flow to determine which arteries are narrowed or blocked
Identifying your disease early and knowing
your treatment options can lead to better outcomes.
The ideal outcome of PAD treatment is to return the flow of blood to the legs and feet. Treatment options vary and sometimes include several different therapies. Your healthcare provider will determine the best treatment for you based on the severity of symptoms and blockage in the arteries.
- Lifestyle changes
- Endovascular treatment
- Surgical bypass