If you have coldness in the lower leg or foot, leg numbness or weakness, or cramping in the thighs or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, you might have peripheral artery disease (PAD). Learn more about diagnosing and treating PAD below.
What is PAD?
Peripheral Artery Disease is a common condition in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the arms or legs. The legs or arms — usually the legs — don’t receive enough oxygen-carrying blood to keep up with demand. This may cause leg pain when walking and other symptoms. PAD is usually the result of a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. It is more common as we age.
Is it more common in men or women?
PAD is more common with men than women. However, new studies have shown that women may experience more severe symptoms that require treatment.
What are some of the risk factors associated with PAD?
- Being more than 50 years old
- Males have a risk two times greater than females
- Family history of PAD
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
What are the symptoms of PAD?
- Pain, which worsens at rest and becomes severe enough to restrict any movement
- Cold legs that become pale or blue
- Numbness and tingling in legs
- Leg ulcers that don’t heal
- Gangrene (tissue death), which may require amputation to avoid the loss of the whole limb and infection
What tests determine if a patient has PAD?
Imaging studies, such as ultrasound and X-ray, and blood tests are used to diagnose PAD.
What are the treatment options for PAD?
If it is determined that someone has PAD, the goal is to control the symptoms, improve the quality of life, prevent life-threatening complications and avoid amputation. Some treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, dietary changes and regular exercise.
- Medications to treat underlying conditions and reduce the chance of blood clots.
- Angioplasty. If an artery is blocked, a doctor can place a stent inside the artery to keep blood flowing through it. In angioplasty, a physician inserts a catheter with a balloon attached to it through a large artery, such as the femoral artery, to reach the narrowed artery, then inflating the balloon and dilating the artery.
- Bypass surgery, when most of the vessel is narrow or blocked or there are multiple areas of narrowing.
PAD is a preventable disease. Don’t ignore the symptoms, especially if you have risk factors. Remember that the earlier the diagnosis, the more successful the management plan.
To schedule an appointment with one of our vascular specialists, call our free physician referral service at 580-249-3741.
Physicians are on the medical staff of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the nondiscrimination notice, visit our website.