Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral (away from the trunk) arteries, most commonly in the arteries of the pelvis and legs. PAD is similar to coronary (heart) artery disease (CAD) and carotid (neck) artery disease. All three of these conditions are caused by narrowed and blocked arteries in various critical regions of the body that limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.
PAD increases your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”). The most common symptoms of PAD are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and returns when you walk again.
Some facts about PAD:
- People with PAD have four to five times more risk of heart attack or stroke
- Many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else
- PAD often goes undiagnosed by healthcare professionals
- Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation
Risk factors for PAD include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Most cases of PAD can be managed by a heart-healthy lifestyle and medication, but some may require surgical procedures to open or replace the narrowed arteries.