Cardiovascular Institute > About Us > Conditions > Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also called peripheral vascular disease, is a slowly progressive condition, typically occurring in the legs, in which blood flow in the arterial vessels becomes restricted by plaque buildup. Artery narrowing from significant plaque buildup can cause pain during activity (though once activity ceases and with rest, the pain usually goes away).   

Risk Factors

  • Smoking (most significant risk factor) 
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Hypertension 
  • Physical inactivity 

Symptoms

  • Pain in the buttocks, thighs, calves or feet
  • Difficulty walking up stairs
  • Difficulty obtaining an erection (men) or trouble with sexual arousal (women) 

Diagnosis and Tests

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, other tests may include:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI) test (comparison of blood pressure in the ankle with blood pressure in the arm using a regular blood pressure cuff)
  • Doppler ultrasound (non-invasive test to evaluate blood flow through the arteries)
  • Arteriography (invasive test to evaluate blood flow through the arteries)

Treatments

The main goals for treatment of peripheral artery disease are to control symptoms and halt the progression of the disease. Treatment options include:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Hypertension control
  • Diabetes control
  • Hyperlipidemia control
  • Peripheral angioplasty 
  • Vascular surgery