Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common circulatory condition that happens when the arteries that supply blood to the extremities (most commonly the legs) become narrowed or blocked. This reduced blood flow can lead to a range of symptoms and potentially serious complications.
How do I know if I have peripheral artery disease?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) often presents itself with specific symptoms. If you notice any of the following, talk to your doctor as soon as possible:
- Numbness or weakness in your leg or foot
- Sores, ulcers or unusual skin coloration
- Slower hair and nail growth
- Wounds take longer to heal than normal
- Weak or absent pulses in the affected limb
- Erectile dysfunction (in people with a penis)
The good news is that PAD is very treatable. Depending on your unique needs, our team of experts may recommend strategies ranging from lifestyle changes to surgery.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease, happens when plaque buildup in arteries reduces blood flow to the legs and feet.
PAD can increase a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke. If the disease progresses, blood vessels can narrow to dangerous levels, causing pain, ulcers and gangrene. This life-threatening stage of PAD is called critical limb ischemia (CLI). If gone untreated, the affected limb may need to be amputated.
Risk factors for PAD
Several lifestyle choices and health conditions can lead to an increased risk of developing PAD, such as:
- Age (1 in 10 people over age 65 have PAD)
- Family history of heart attack stroke, heart disease or peripheral vascular disease
- History of smoking
- Having one or more chronic diseases, such as diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Postmenopausal women
- Male gender
- Coronary artery disease
- Physical inactivity
- Smoking or use of tobacco products
Those who smoke or have diabetes have the highest risk of complications because these factors also cause impaired blood flow.
Not everyone living with PAD experiences symptoms, and sometimes symptoms may go undiagnosed because they overlap with other health conditions. If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms or risk factors, talk to your doctor.
There’s a simple test called an ankle-brachial index (ABI) that compares the blood pressure in your ankle to that in your arm. If the pressure is lower in your ankle than in your arm, it’s possible you have PAD.
Other tests to further diagnose PAD include:
- Pulse volume recording (PVR): A noninvasive vascular test that measures arterial blood flow in the arms and legs using blood pressure cuffs
- CT angiography (CTA): Paired with a CT scan, doctors inject dye into an artery to monitor blood flow for any blockages and disease.
We use the latest diagnostic imaging techniques, like high-frequency ultrasound and positron emission tomography (PET) to detect peripheral artery disease. And because PAD is sometimes caused by lifestyle choices, understanding your potential risk factors can help us determine if you’re living with the disease.
Treating PAD can be as simple as making healthy choices, like exercising more and quitting smoking. Some people can also lower their risk for developing PAD with medications that improve blood flow. PAD can create more complications as the condition advances. Talk with your doctor if minimally invasive procedures or surgeries will help improve your health.
Minimally invasive treatments for PAD
In more serious cases, we’ll work with you to create the safest and most effective treatment plan. We offer a full range of minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures like:
- Angioplasty: A balloon-tipped catheter is threaded through the artery until it reaches the blockage. The balloon is inflated to expand the blockage, and then deflated and retrieved to widen the narrowed artery.
- Stenting: This common technique is often performed during angioplasty to prop open the blocked artery. It works by inserting and permanently expanding a mesh-like device into the vessel wall near the blockage.
- Atherectomy: This procedure is used to open smaller arteries that are blocked or narrowed because of plaque buildup.
Surgical procedures for advanced PAD
PAD can become a life-threatening condition if blood flow becomes too restricted. We can perform more advanced surgical conditions to treat PAD, like:
- Endarterectomy: This procedure is a good option for people whose large and accessible arteries (like the carotid and femoral arteries) are affected by plaque buildup. It requires making an incision to remove plaque buildup in the narrowed or blocked artery to reduce the risk of stroke.
- Surgical bypass: A conduit (either a vein harvested from the body or a prosthetic tube) reroutes blood flow around the blocked blood vessel.