Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) affects 1 in 20 people over the age of 50. Many people do not recognize they have the disease and PAD frequently goes untreated. The symptoms are often attributed to the normal effects of aging. Early diagnosis of PAD is essential and can not only reduce the pain and discomfort, but save your limbs from amputation, and significantly decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke.

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What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

PAD is a common problem in which plaque builds up inside the arteries carrying blood from the heart to your legs and feet. It is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases and affects 18 million Americans. Atherosclerosis is the widespread accumulation of arterial plaque and causes these arteries to harden and become narrow significantly reducing the blood flow. Left untreated, PAD often leads to limb amputation.

Arteries and Veins of the Legs
The legs have two primary systems: arterial and venous. Arteries carry blood to the tissues under pressure by the force of the heart beating. Veins return blood to the heart but do so under low pressure. Veins rely on valves within them to maintain forward flow. Both arterial and venous systems have specific diseases that affect them.

Are You at Risk for PAD?

Recognizing the risk factors of PAD is the first step toward getting diagnosed and treated. Untreated, PAD can lead to severe complications, including amputation. Some risk factors for PAD such as age, race, and family history are uncontrollable. However, many risk factors are the result of lifestyle choices and can be changed.
  • Do you smoke or have you smoked in the past?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any of the following: Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, or Chronic Kidney Disease?
  • Do your legs feel tired, heavy or have cramping?
  • Do you have wounds or sores on your feet that seem slow to heal or will not heal?
  • Do you experience leg or foot pain that interrupts sleep?
  • Do you have one foot that feels colder than the other?
  • The more of these questions you answered YES to, the higher your risk for PAD.

What are the Treatment Options for PAD?

Lifestyle Changes

You can start by making simple lifestyle changes.
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking
  • Create a plan for losing weight
  • Manage your diabetes

Medication

You may also need medication to help you:
  • Lower high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or both
  • Thin your blood to prevent clots from forming
  • Improve your walking ability and decrease pain in your legs

Endovascular Treatments

Unlike surgery, endovascular treatments only require a small incision often in the groin, arm, or leg. A physician will then pass a series of devices through the incision and into the artery, to reach the site of the blockage.

Angioplasty

a minimally invasive procedure that involves a balloon being placed in the area with a blockage and being inflated to restore blood flow.

Stent

a small tube placed in the artery to keep it open

Atherectomy

a minimally invasive procedure using a medical
device to clear the blockage.

Surgical Options

For those who can’t be treated by medication or endovascular treatments, there are surgical options available.
• Bypass Surgery - A surgical procedure that uses a blood vessel or a synthetic vessel to bypass the blockage.

Did You Know?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes blockage in the arteries to the legs. It can cause leg pain with walking (claudication) and can lead to limb loss (amputation). It is also a risk factor for stroke and heart attack.
Diagnosis and treatment of PAD may be limb and life saving!
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