Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as atherosclerosis, poor circulation, or hardening of the arteries, is a common problem, especially among the older population. This build-up of plaque makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the arteries. PAD primarily affects the legs but can affect the arms as well.


What causes Peripheral Artery Disease? Learn More Close

Peripheral artery disease most often occurs after a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries. This is called atherosclerotic plaque. Over time, this buildup becomes more severe, and blood flow is reduced—especially in the extremities. Much less often, peripheral artery disease occurs after an accident or injury that reduces circulation to the arms or legs.

Am I at risk for Peripheral Artery Disease? Learn More Close

Some of the most common risk factors associated with peripheral artery disease are the following:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Age (those 30 or older are most susceptible)
  • Family history of heart disease

What are the symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease? Learn More Close

Some people may have PAD and be completely symptom-free. However, the most common symptoms are pain, cramping and discomfort in the legs, calves, thighs or buttocks when walking. The pain usually goes away with rest, but then restarts once activity is resumed. Other symptoms may include severe pain in your feet at night that wakes you up, or wounds on your feet that won't heal. Often times, the leg will become discolored and dark, and the skin can become shiny and hair-free.

How can I prevent Peripheral Artery Disease? Learn More Close

While you may not be able to change your family history, some of the risk factors can be avoided or minimized. Controlling weight, blood pressure and cholesterol through diet and exercise are key. Additionally, those who smoke are encouraged to quit. Taking care of other health problems may also help prevent PAD from occurring or worsening.