What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) generally occurs in the legs or lower extremities and is the blockage of vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs. It is caused primarily by the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which is known as atherosclerosis. While PAD can occur in any blood vessel, it is more common in the legs than the arms of patients aged 40 and up.

What are some of the risk factors?

Smoking, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol, and ages above 60 years. If you have PAD, you are at a higher risk for coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease, which could eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.

What are the symptoms of PAD?

Pain in the legs with any activity, aches or cramps in the thigh, hip or buttocks, hair loss, smooth and shiny skin, skin that is cool to the touch, decreased or absent pulses in the feet, sores or ulcers in the legs that aren’t healing, and/or cold or numb toes.

Can you prevent this disease?

If you exercise regularly, discontinue use of smoking tobacco, control blood pressure and manage cholesterol and diabetes you have a better chance at preventing PAD.

If you think you are at risk for Peripheral Arterial Disease, click here for a Questionnaire.

Learn more about the diagnosis and treatment here.

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