Peripheral Arterial Disease

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease, it’s important to know that today’s most advanced treatment options are available at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular.

Here’s information to help you better understand this condition is and why treatment is so important:

What is peripheral arterial disease?

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – also called peripheral vascular disease, or PVD – is a circulation problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the arms and legs.

What causes peripheral arterial disease?

The most common cause of peripheral arterial disease is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in the arteries, usually as a result of damage to the inner layers of the arteries from:

  • Smoking
  • High amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • High amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes

Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to organs and other parts of your body.

What are the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease?

Just as chest pain (angina) on exertion is caused by a blocked heart artery, painful cramping in the calf, thigh or buttocks when walking – and which goes away at rest – is caused by blockages in the leg. This is called intermittent claudication.

Other PAD symptoms can include:

  • Feet that are cool to the touch
  • Leg or foot pain when lying flat that’s relieved by sitting
  • Loss of pulse in legs or feet
  • Redness, color changes in the skin
  • Shiny skin
  • Sores that do not heal (leg ulcers)
  • Gangrene

Notably, half of people with PAD have no symptoms at all.

Why treatment for peripheral arterial disease is necessary

Left untreated, PAD is a leading cause of amputation, and puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke and death.

Learn more about the treatment options for peripheral arterial disease that are available at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular Center.