Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) occurs when blood vessels become narrowed and are not able to deliver blood to the rest of the body effectively, especially reducing blood flow to the legs.  This narrowing of blood vessels can be caused by atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of fatty plaques within the arteries.  When more space in the arteries is taken up by these fatty plaques, less space is available for blood to travel through the arteries, resulting in reduced blood flow to the body.

What are the common risk factors for PAD?

The following are the most commonly-related risk factors for developing PAD.

  • Smoking History, past or present
  • Older Age
  • Diagnosis of:
    • Chronic Kidney Disease
    • Diabetes
    • Heart Disease
    • High Cholesterol
    • Hypertension
    • Obesity
    • Stroke

If any of these risk factors apply to you, contact your physician to learn more about steps you can take to prevent the development or progression of PAD.

Early Detection of PAD 

The early symptoms of PAD are commonly unique to each individual.  Some individuals may not experience any early symptoms, while others may experience things like cold feet or cramping in the legs during exertion that is relieved by rest.  While these symptoms may seem to not be of alarm or just regular symptoms of older age, they may simply be the body giving indicators that PAD is beginning to develop.  If this is the case, these symptoms can be easily treated, and the development or progression of PAD can be slowed.

What You Can Do to Prevent PAD?

A physician can easily and noninvasively diagnose PAD in only a few minutes by using the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI).  This is accomplished by comparing the blood pressure of the right arm compared with the right leg and comparing the blood pressure of the left arm with the left leg.  If the result of this calculation is of alarm to the physician, it could indicate that a diagnosis of PAD is appropriate.

Besides using the ABI, lifestyle changes are influential in the prevention of PAD.  Smoking cessation, a healthy diet, and exercising are all important for staying healthy and promoting blood flow within the body.  Talk with your physician to see if any of these lifestyle changes may be beneficial to you and your prevention of PAD.