What Is PAD?

Let’s Get Started: Show Me PAD

There is more than one way to manage your peripheral artery disease (PAD) symptoms and your preferences matter. Your lifestyle, your preferences and other medical conditions all play a role in your decision. You may need a combination of treatments, and those may change throughout your lifetime. First, let’s help you understand PAD, as well as its risk factors and symptoms.

What Is PAD?

PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE IS:

  • A form of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced blood flow to the arteries of the legs
  • Caused by buildup of plaque (fatty deposits) in arteries

COMMON RISK FACTORS?

  • Smoking, Diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Inactive lifestyle, Age
There is no "one size fits all" for PAD treatments

Smoking

Diabetes

High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol

Inactive Lifestyle

Age

Smoking is the #1 risk factor for PAD.

Only

16%

of PAD patients who smoke receive a referral from their doctors for smoking cessation resources

Ask your provider about resources to help you quit smoking.

SOURCE: PORTRAIT Study 2017

SYMPTOMS?

Leg pain in your calves and buttocks, called “claudication,” may occur when your muscles do not get enough blood and oxygen. Leg symptoms that occur while walking may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort
  • Numbness
  • Cramping or pain

These symptoms usually disappear after a brief period of rest (within 10 minutes).

 

Some patients may report other leg symptoms:

  • Pain while sitting or standing
  • Pain that doesn’t go away after rest

HOW IS PAD DIAGNOSED?

  • A painless, non-invasive test called the “ankle-brachial index” (ABI) compares blood pressure in your ankles with the pressure in your arms
  • Abnormal test results may indicate there is reduced blood flow in your leg arteries
  • You may be asked to do an exercise test to see whether blood pressure in your legs changes when you exercise
  • You may receive additional testing to determine the severity and location of blockages

HOW SERIOUS IS PAD?

  • PAD can severely limit your day-to-day activities
  • People with PAD have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke
  • PAD is a chronic disease; its symptoms and cardiovascular risks need to be managed for the rest of your life
  • In rare cases (1 to 2%), PAD may progress to severe PAD where patients experience non-healing wounds and even risk losing a toe or leg
  • To reduce the risk of amputation, all patients with PAD should:
    • Regularly examine your feet and practice healthy foot care
    • Promptly seek diagnosis and treatment for non-healing wounds

More questions?

  • For a visual overview of PAD, visit the American Heart Association website.
  • If you want to learn more about PAD, consult these resources for additional PAD information.
  • If you are not sure whether you have PAD, talk to your doctor. There is a simple test to check the blood flow in your leg arteries, called the Ankle-Brachial Index.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about symptoms, risk factors, or worsening of symptoms related to your PAD.

Follow these steps to learn about PAD