Peripheral Artery Disease: Just the Facts
So, what exactly is peripheral artery disease?
As the name suggests, peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects the arteries that supply blood to your body’s periphery. The most common symptom of PAD is leg pain that typically worsens with walking or prolonged standing. Other symptoms may include:
- arm and/or chest pain
- shortness of breath
- fatigue or weakness in arms and legs
Pain typically occurs when you walk because the pressure of blood flow against the diseased arteries may cause clots to form and threaten your life.
Causes of PAD
PAD is a serious condition that can affect anyone at any age. The most common causes of PAD are:
- a family history of atherosclerosis
- being sedentary for long periods of time
- smoking cigarettes or being exposed to secondhand smoke
High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol may also contribute to the development of PAD. In some cases, a person with PAD may have a heart attack or stroke due to the blockage in the arteries. If you have any risk factors for PAD, it’s important to be aware of its symptoms and seek medical help if necessary. It’s also important to note that some people may not experience any symptoms from PAD.
Diagnosis and Treatment of PAD
To diagnose PAD, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask about your symptoms. He or she may also order an ultrasound to assess the flow of blood in your leg arteries.
If you’ve been diagnosed with PAD, treatment options are available that can help manage the pain and prevent serious complications. All treatment options are geared towards reducing the pressure on your diseased arteries or by improving their blood flow.
PAD treatment options
- Exercise therapy – including walking devices, tai chi, yoga, etc.
- Oral therapy – specifically statins and other lipid-lowering drugs
- Non-surgical and minimally invasive vascular procedures
- Surgical therapy – such as angioplasty or bypass surgery
We encourage anyone with PAD, or those experiencing PAD symptoms yet undiagnosed, to contact us today to speak with our vascular care experts.