Mercy Heart & Vascular Center
Conditions - Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
P.A.D occurs when arteries in your leg(s) are blocked and/or become hard due to a buildup of plaque (fat and cholesterol deposits). Narrowed or clogged arteries prevent the normal flow of oxygenated blood to the legs and feet. P.A.D. has very specific symptoms: muscle pain in your calf, thigh or buttock that occurs while moving and is relieved when you stop – a condition called claudication. In addition you may experience pain in your feet or toes that is intense enough to wake you from sleep, or slow-healing ulcers on your toes and feet. P.A.D. is a serious condition because it can indicate that you also have hardened arteries leading to your heart or brain which can put you at increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Smoking is the greatest risk factor for P.A.D. Other risk factors include:
- high blood pressure and/or cholesterol
- personal or family history of heart disease or heart attack
- age (P.A.D. usually occurs in patients over the age of 50)
- race (African-Americans are at greater risk for P.A.D.)
Your doctor can diagnose P.A.D. by reviewing your medical history and risk factors along with a physical examination including an ABI (ankle-brachial index). P.A. D. can often be treated with lifestyle changes or drug therapy including medication to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and better manage diabetes. Your doctor will determine if your case requires an endovascular or surgical procedure to correct the condition.