Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Leg pain is all too common and can easily be overlooked, but it’s crucial to consult your physician if you experience abnormal or continuous pain in your lower muscles. It may be a sign of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), a common circulatory problem where blood flow is restricted to the limbs.

Who is at risk?

PAD affects millions of people in the United States and is more common in African Americans. Some risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
  • Increased age, especially over 50 years old
  • Family history of PAD, heart attack or stroke
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease

PAD Symptoms

• Painful cramping in your lower muscles that occurs while walking but not while at rest
• Loss of pulse in leg/numbness or weakness
• Leg or foot that feels colder compared to the other side
• Sores on lower extremities that won’t heal
• A change in the color or hair growth on feet and legs
• Erectile dysfunction in men

Testing for PAD

If you experience symptoms or are at high risk of PAD your doctor can order an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) to measure the blood pressure in your ankle compared to your arm. The test is simple, reliable and safe and takes about 15 minutes. The ABI result is used to predict the severity of PAD.

Treating PAD

PAD drastically alters your ability to live life free of pain and it can serve as a warning sign that blood flow to your heart and brain could also be compromised. Lifestyle changes are key to reducing the risks for PAD and can eliminate the need for more drastic measures such as medication and stents.

Get on the right track:

• Quit smoking
• Lower cholesterol
• Lower blood pressure
• Manage blood glucose
• Eat healthy
• Exercise regularly
• Discuss antiplatelet medicines with your doctor

For most people with PAD, these life-saving steps may be enough to slow down the disease and even improve symptoms.

If you suffer from PAD or are at risk, there is help. Professionals at St. Vincent’s Medical Center are highly trained in prevention and treatment. Our entire staff is dedicated to the Mission of healing and caring for each and every patient.

Thomson Reuters Top 100 Hospital in Cardiovascular 2008

St. Vincent’s HealthCare. Gary and Nancy Chartrand Heart & Vascular Center.