Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. The most common symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is painful muscle cramping in the legs, which occurs during exercise.
In this section, you’ll find important facts about PAD, its causes and risk factors. The more you learn about this disease, the more likely you’ll be to notice early warning signs when treatment is most effective. If you would like more information about ankle-brachial index measurement and other diagnostic tools used to detect PAD, see Diagnosis.
Treatment for PAD aims to manage your symptoms and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. Often, you can successfully treat peripheral artery disease by making long-term lifestyle changes, such as quitting tobacco, exercising and eating a healthy diet. In some cases, medicines, procedures or surgery may also be required. Read on for more information about treatment options.
According to the American Heart Association , the most common symptom of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is painful muscle cramping in the calves, thighs, buttocks, and feet. This is called intermittent claudication, and occurs during exercise when your muscles need increased blood flow. If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, your muscles won't receive the blood it needs, which then triggers the painful, cramping symptom. The pain typically disappears after a few minutes of rest.
Intermittent claudication affects around 10% of those with PAD. Most people with PAD have no symptoms or often mistake their symptoms for something else. However, other signs and symptoms of PAD can include:
Don’t dismiss leg pain, numbness or other symptoms as a normal part of aging. See your doctor to find out what the cause of your complications.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
PAD is often caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which occurs when fatty deposits build up, forming a substance called plaque inside the arteries. This is a very serious condition. The clogged arteries restrict blood flow to your extremities, usually the legs, which can result in pain when walking, and eventually gangrene and amputation.
Because atherosclerosis affects the body as a whole, individuals with PAD are likely to have blocked arteries in other areas of the body. This means that those with PAD are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. PAD can also indicate the presence of other conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
Those who are at highest risk for PAD are:
After evaluating your medical and family histories, some of the tests your doctor may use to diagnose peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are:
Treatment for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) aims to manage your symptoms and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. Your treatment plan will take into account your symptoms, risk factors, and the results from your diagnostic exams. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery or procedures.
The best way to prevent peripheral arterial disease is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That includes: