Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

What is it?

Peripheral arterial disease, also called peripheral artery disease, is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to limbs.

Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors

Peripheral artery disease is likely to be caused by a widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition may be reducing blood flow to the heart, brain or legs. It may also be caused by blood clots in arteries, injury to limbs, infection or irregular anatomy of ligaments or muscles.

It is common to have mild or no symptoms. Symptoms of this disease may include:

  • Painful cramping in hip, thigh or calf muscles after walking (intermittent claudication)
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in one lower leg or foot as compared to other leg or foot
  • Sores on toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
  • Hair loss on feet or legs
  • Change in toenails

Risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Age 50 or older
  • Family history of peripheral artery disease
  • Excess levels of homocystein (a protein that helps build and maintain tissue)
  • Excess levels of c-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation)

Our Services (Tests, Procedures and Treatments)

Diagnostic testing and procedures are the first step in establishing a treatment strategy. A doctor may order tests or perform the following procedures:

  • A physical exam and extensive medical history
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI)
  • CT angiogram
  • Arteriography

Treatment of peripheral artery disease include lifestyle changes to manage risk factors such as managing diabetes when present, achieving ideal weight, getting more exercise and quitting smoking. Additionally, drug therapy, may be used which can reduce or get rid of the risk of heart disease or stroke. The goal is to manage the symptoms and stop the progression of atherosclerosis.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, medicine may be prescribed or the following procedures may also be performed:

  • Angioplasty or stenting
  • Thrombolytic services
  • Surgery
St. Luke's Heart & Vascular