Peripheral Artery Disease

Approximately eight million people in this country suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). This common disease, which involves impaired blood flow in the legs, is often not diagnosed or treated and many people have no symptoms. Thankfully, you can now determine if you have PAD with a fast, simple screening. Following are some facts you should know about PAD. 

PAD Symptoms

  • Claudication — cramping, pain, fatigue or heaviness in your legs while climbing stairs or walking that improves with rest.
  • Pain in your legs or feet while sleeping
  • Wounds on your legs or feet that don’t heal well
Surprisingly, nearly a third of people with PAD have no symptoms

PAD Risk Factors

You are at higher risk and should consider being screened if you are:
  • A person who smokes or has diabetes and is 50 years or older
  • Aged 60 or older, especially if you’re male
  • A person with diabetes younger than 50 with other risk factors such as smoking
  • A person with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • A person with a family history of cardiovascular disease

PAD Causes

Heart disease, diabetes and other health problems which can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries (called atherosclerosis) of your legs and impair blood flow in those vessels.

Diagnose PAD with a Simple Screening Test

Fortunately, PAD can be diagnosed with a painless, non-invasive test called an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI). This simple screening test:
  • Uses ultrasound (a painless test involving a transducer and sound waves) to determine if blood flow in your legs is reduced
  • Uses blood pressure cuffs to measure and compare your arm pressure with the pressure in your ankles. Lower ankle pressure may indicate PAD.
  • Takes only about 10 minutes to perform
  • Includes a discussion of your results and recommendations for next steps, when appropriate

PAD Prevention and Treatment

You often can reduce the symptoms of PAD and even reverse its progression with simple lifestyle changes such as these:
  • Quit smoking
  • Get regular exercise
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Manage your blood sugar
  • Watch your weight
Some PAD patients may need medications and/or surgical procedures. Your doctor can help you determine the appropriate treatments for you.

Why Detection and Treatment of PAD are Important

When PAD is not diagnosed and not treated, it usually gets worse and leads to more serious complications such as:
  • Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) – a condition where the blood flow in your legs is so impaired that you may have tissue loss or even gangrene. This condition often leads to leg amputations.
  • Increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke
  • Serious decrease in your abilities and quality of life
  • Increased risk of death