Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD is a heart ailment that affects the blood vessels on the outside areas of the heart.  It affects the arteries that use for the circulation of blood to the legs and arms.  As in the case of other heart diseases, the reasons of PAD are also high cholesterol, lack or exercise and obesity.  

In United States, the statistics show that 8 to 12 million people have PAD and this figure is expected to reach to 19 million by 2050.  People who have PAD can have six or seven times higher risk of heart attack or stroke.  If this disease is not treated in time, it can cause serious infections that can result in the loss of the limb.  About one third of PAD patients are dying because of heart attack or stroke.

Heart Disease - Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms

The blood circulations to the legs or arms are reduced due to PAD, so the patient may feel pain in the leg or arms and finds trouble in walking.  This situation can be misunderstood as the difficulty in the joints as a part of aging.  But when you have PAD, you will suffer pain in the legs, hips or buttocks while exercising. The pain will go when you take rest.  But in more serious cases, you may feel the pain when you are not doing exercises also.

Peripheral Artery Disease Diagnosis

Tests are to be conducted to diagnose this disease.  If you feel any discomfort as described above, it is better to consult your doctor for advice.  The most common test for PAD is ABI or Ankle-Brachial Index.  Here PAD will be diagnosed by the comparison blood pressures in your legs and arms using a blood pressure cuff.

If this test is positive, further tests will be done to find the location of the blocked artery.  The tests that use for the blocked arteries are:

  • Duplex Doppler Ultrasound (uses sound waves to create a picture of arteries)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI (create three-dimensional pictures using radio waves in a magnetic field)
  • Angiography (uses a small tube called catheter and inject it into the artery)
  • Computerized Tomography Angiography or CTA (injects a dye into the blood vessel and x-rays are taken)
Peripheral Arterial Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment (Contemporary Cardiology)
Amazon Price: $259.00 $54.14 Buy Now
(price as of May 19, 2016)
This book explains in detail the risk factors of PAD and about the antiplatelet therapies for the patients.

Peripheral Artery Disease Causes and Risk Factors

PAD, like atherosclerosis, occurs because of the narrowed arteries.  When the fatty deposits or calcium and other substances build up plaques, it will make the arteries narrower, so that the normal flow of the blood will be obstructed.  The reduced blood supplies means the reduced supply of oxygen and this is the reason for the pain in the limbs. If not treated early, the health risk associated with PAD is very high as mentioned above.  But the disease can be easily diagnosed and treated if you are willing to seek the help of your doctor in the beginning of the disease itself.

Causes of PAD are lack of exercises, eating high fat food, smoking, stress and overweight. In addition to these, aging and family history of heart disease also can be the reasons.  In women, menopause is an additional cause for the attack of this disease.   


Contemporary Diagnosis And Management of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Amazon Price: $117.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 19, 2016)
This book contains the different aspects of peripheral arterial disease which will be helpful in the diagnostic process also.

Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment

In early stage of the disease, it can be cured by simple treatments like using medicines and doing exercises.  Drugs can reduce the pain and exercises can bring more oxygen to the arteries.  If your PAD is in an advanced stage, it is necessary to do further treatments.  The other treatments available for the cure of PAD are:

  • Angioplasty
  • Stent Implantation
  • Atherectomy
  • Endarterectomy
  • Bypass Surgery

By using any of the above methods, peripheral artery disease can be cured.  Early detection of the disease will be more helpful and then it can be treated successfully without complicated procedures.  So when you feel pain in your limbs, do not hesitate to consult your doctor as early as possible.