Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

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Definition

Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD is a chronic disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries to the legs. If it progresses, blood flow can become limited in the arteries and eventually block off completely.

Symptoms

Fatigue or cramping of the muscles in your calf, thighs, or hips while walking. The pain resolves after a few minutes of rest.
Pain in your toes and feet while resting can indicate advanced PAD. An open sore or ulcer can also develop on your foot and advanced cases of PAD. These ulcers can progress to gangrene and require immediate attention.

What are the risk factors?

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic factors
  • Kidney failure

How is it diagnosed?

  • Ankle brachial index (ABI): this test compares the blood pressure in your arms to your legs
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan with contrast
  • Angiogram

How is it treated?

PAD is first treated with lifestyle modification and medication. Smoking cessation is of the utmost importance, as is controlling your diabetes and cholesterol. Also participating in an exercise or walking program can help improve symptoms if you have mild PAD.

If severe PAD is present, stents or balloons can open up blocked arteries. A surgical bypass can also be performed to improve blood flow down the legs.

How do I find a physician to treat my condition?

For further questions or to make an appointment please contact the Vascular Health Alliance at 864-454-8272.