Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
What is PAD?
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is the result of plaque build-up in the arteries of the body otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Plaque is composed of fat and cholesterol that deposits within the walls of the arteries. These deposits can develop throughout the arteries and cause stenosis, or narrowing, of the effected artery which can begin to reduce blood flow.
Since the arteries carry blood that's rich in oxygen from the heart to the entire body – the brain, muscles, kidneys, skin, and all other organs. A reduction in blood flow can have an adverse effect on the body. When the narrowing is severe, organs that depend on arterial flow can begin to suffer. In patients with PAD, the arteries that supply the leg muscles are narrowed or blocked, limiting the oxygen supply to those muscles causing them to become symptomatic.
Symptoms May Include:
- Painful muscle cramps in lower body
- Coldness in feet or lower legs
- Numbness in legs
- Weakness in legs
- Thinning and/or loss of hair on legs
- Sores or ulcers on feet/lower legs that are slow to heal
The exact cause of developing PAD is not known but we do know the factors that can increase your risk of developing PAD. Those factors include those that have diabetes, elevated cholesterol, genetic predisposition, as well as those who use or are exposed to tobacco are all at a greater risk of developing PAD in their lifetime.
As PAD worsens, blood flow can become so low that the legs are painful even while resting, or begin to develop wounds due to poor arterial circulation. While PAD is not something that can be "cured" prevention and action is key to
Most patients with PAD can be treated with lifestyle modifications and exercise.
Some lifestyle modifications may include:
- Cutting out Tobacco products, continued use is harmful and increases the risk of PAD
- Controlling your diet, reduce the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol that you consume
- Keeping Diabetes under control, As a diabetic your immune system is more susceptible to infection/prone to developing sores on the feet and PAD can make these issues much more severe and difficult to treat
- Controlling High Blood pressure, high blood pressure can be harmful to the arteries and make you more susceptible to developing PAD
- Controlling High Cholesterol, as high cholesterol levels can also be harmful to the arteries and put you at an increased risk for PAD
For those who have more severe cases, there are many treatments available to restore blood flow and help patients resume the lifestyle they would like to pursue.
Please take a look at our Treatments for Arterial Disease Page for more information.