Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common medical condition in which the arteries narrow and can't carry as much blood to your extremities, such as your arms and legs.

If you do not seek treatment, you may also have increased chances of having a heart attack or stroke. It may also necessitate the removal of a limb.

What are the causes of PAD?

The most common cause of PAD is blockage of the arteries due to deposition of fat and cholesterol and form plaques that build up in the arteries.

Plaque buildup makes the arteries harder and narrower over time. It's similar to old plumbing in a house. When plaque builds up in your arteries, blood flow slows and your body doesn't get enough oxygen.

What are the risk factors for PAD?

You may have 1 in 3 chances of having PAD if you have heart disease. Other factors that increase your chances of having PAD include:

How does smoking affect PAD?

The single greatest risk factor for PAD is smoking. It increases your risk of PAD by 400% when compared to nonsmokers.

What are the symptoms of PAD?

You may experience muscle pain or cramping as a result of decreased blood flow to the legs. This pain is referred to as claudication. You will usually feel it when you walk or climb stairs, but it goes away when you rest.

Other signs and symptoms in advanced PAD?

  • Changes in the color of your legs
  • Erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes
  • Leg weakness
  • Fatigue while walking
  • Legs that are cooler than your arms
  • Loss of hair on your legs
  • Shiny skin on your legs
  • Slow toenail growth
  • Non healing ulcers

If you have PAD in your arms, the symptoms will be similar to those in your legs. Pain, cramps, or heaviness may occur during activities, but they will subside when you rest.

How do doctors diagnose PAD?

How do doctors treat PAD?

You might need medical treatments:

  • Angioplasty: A catheter, a thin tube is used in this procedure to insert a tiny balloon into your artery. When inflated, the balloon pushes the plaque out to widen the artery, and restoring blood flow. The doctor may insert a mesh tube called as a stent to keep your artery open.
  • Medications
  • Surgery

Can PAD lead to other problems?

You could have plaque buildup in your heart's arteries. This is known as coronary artery disease. It could also be in the ones that go to your kidneys. This is referred to as renal artery disease. This can also occur in the carotid arteries, which transport blood to the brain and cause a stroke.

What could help prevent PAD?

  • Stop smoking
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Manage conditions: such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.