Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, is a disorder that occurs in the arteries of the circulatory system. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all areas of the body.
In PAD, arteries become narrowed or blocked when plaque forms inside the artery walls. This plaque or “atherosclerosis” is composed of cholesterol-rich material and calcium. When this develops, blood cannot get through to nourish organs. This can cause damage and eventually tissue death.
Symptoms of PAD may progress slowly over a lifetime or develop rapidly within hours. The first noticeable symptoms may be intermittent claudication – leg discomfort, pain or cramping that develops with activity and is relieved with rest. The pain is typically in the calf, but may also be felt in the buttocks or thigh depending on the location of the obstructive process. The pain can be severe enough to interfere with normal walking. This may progress to rest pain – burning or aching pain in toes or heels without activity often relieved with dependent positioning, and ulceration or gangrene, when tissue begins to die from critically poor blood flow and compromised oxygen delivery.
Risk factors for the development of PAD include diabetes, cigarette use, age greater than 50, hypertension and high cholesterol. Individuals with heart disease often suffer from PAD in other areas of the body.
- Angioplasty/Stenting for PAD
- Bypass Surgery for PAD
- Changes to diet and exercise
- Smoking cessation