Peripheral Artery Disease - FAQ's

What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), occurs when peripheral blood vessels are blocked, hardened and narrowed with plaque in a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition reduces the amount of blood that flows to your head, organs and limbs and increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack. Due to the restricted blood flow, peripheral artery disease increases your risk of infection in your limbs. In severe cases of peripheral artery disease, gangrene can occur.

What is the cause of peripheral artery disease?

Risk factors for developing peripheral artery disease include:

  • Family history of atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Exposure to lead and cadmium
  • Kidney disease

What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?

Some of the symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:

  • Leg pain that often occurs when exercising and ceases during rest
  • Numbness, coldness, change of color or loss of hair in the legs or feet
  • Leg cramps
  • Paleness, blueness or weak or absent pulse in a limb
  • A change in gait

How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed?

Various diagnostic tests used to detect the presence of peripheral artery disease include:

  • Ankle brachial index
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Angiogram
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Plethysmogram
  • Venogram

How is peripheral artery disease treated?

There are several treatment methods for peripheral artery disease, including lifestyle changes and the following:

  • A supervised exercise routine
  • Modifications to the diet
  • Stopping smoking
  • Controlling blood sugar
  • Managing high blood pressure
  • Medication
  • Cholesterol lowering statins

Other treatment options peripheral artery disease include catheter-based treatments and traditional or endoscopic surgery.

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