What is PAD?
PAD is a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the legs, stomach, arms and head. It most commonly affects the legs.
PAD is usually caused by a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances on the artery wall.
PAD is dangerous. Blockages in the arteries can restrict blood flow to the limbs, organs and brain, leading to pain with walking (claudication), ulcers on the feet, heart attack or stroke.
What are the Symptoms of PAD?
The most common symptom of PAD is leg cramps when walking, climbing stairs or exercising. Other symptoms can include:
- Leg pain that does not go away when you are done exercising
- Foot or toe wounds that won’t heal
- A decrease in temperature in one leg
- Poor nail growth on the toes or slow hair growth on the legs
Am I at Risk?
The symptoms of PAD can be mistaken for other conditions, and many cases go undiagnosed. Because PAD is often associated with heart disease and risk for stroke, it is important to talk with your primary care provider if you have symptoms or the risk factors below:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
Screening for PAD
The Ankle-Brachial Index test, or ABI, is a safe and painless test used to determine if blood is circulating properly to your legs. The test uses cuffs to compare the blood pressure in your ankles to the blood pressure in your arms; if the pressure in your ankle is lower than the pressure in your arm, you could have peripheral artery disease.
How is it Treated?
Treatment for PAD focuses on easing symptoms and preventing the disease from getting worse. Treatments can include lifestyle changes, exercises and medications.
For patients with severe PAD, Guthrie offers endovascular treatments such as atherectomy, angioplasty and stenting.