What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?


Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the arms or legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis (build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls). One in every 8 Americans older than 60 years of age have PAD. In all, PAD affects as many as 12 million people in the United States.

Possible Side Effects of PAD

  • Angina and heart attacks
  • Strokes and transient ischemic attacks (temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, which are often labeled "mini-strokes")
  • Claudication (condition in which cramping pain in the leg is induced by exercise)
  • Non-healing leg ulcers
  • Critical limb ischemia (severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities)

Common Risk Factors

  • Slightly more men than women have PAD
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Age

Managing PAD

  • Lifestyle changes: Quit smoking, correct blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
  • Develop healthy eating habits and an exercise plan: Exercising can help increase the circulation and reduce pain in the lower extremities. Walking, hiking, and bike riding are good exercise options. A personal trainer can help tailor a custom workout plan that best fits a person’s needs
  • Medications: Always consult with a physician about which medications may help PAD
  • Special procedures and surgeries: In some severe cases, surgery may be needed to open arteries that have narrowed. Consult with a physician to see if surgery is a necessary treatment

PAD poses particular problems for patients with chronic wounds. Chronic toe and foot sores are common in people with PAD, as are cramping, numbness, weakness, or heaviness in the leg muscles.

The Columbus Regional Health Wound Center performs tests for PAD, treats chronic wounds, which may have underlying conditions of PAD, and counsels patients on how to manage PAD.

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