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Peripheral Artery Disease
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What You Need to Know About Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Getting to the heart of your symptoms and delivering exceptional treatment.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common disorder. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.5 million people in the United States over 40 have PAD. Roughly 10% of people between 70 and 79 have PAD.

PAD isn’t always symptomatic – noticeable symptoms generally do not appear until the condition becomes moderate to severe.

Many people with PAD attribute the symptoms to a lack of exercise or normal aging. Nevertheless, pain, inflammation, or skin changes in the legs should be assessed by a physician as soon as possible.

We’ll examine PAD's core causes, symptoms, complications, and treatments.

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a vascular disorder that affects the arteries in the legs, ankles, and feet. It is caused by the narrowing or blockage of these arteries, reducing blood flow to the lower extremities.

The primary cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, a disorder in which deposits build up in the walls of the arteries, blocking blood flow.

Atherosclerosis occurs when fatty deposits, called plaques, accumulate in the walls of the arteries, gradually narrowing the vessels and reducing the amount of blood that can flow through the artery. These plaques are made up of calcium, cholesterol, and other fatty substances found in the blood.

This buildup of fatty deposits can reduce the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. As a result, the organs can become damaged from a lack of oxygen, leading to an increased likelihood of heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke.

PAD is a life-threatening medical condition resulting in pain, discomfort, limited mobility, and even tissue death in the lower extremities.

The Epidemiology of PAD

Epidemiology is the study of how disease spreads in groups and helps us better understand why and how people get PAD.

PAD is more common among older adults and is often linked to things like smoking and diabetes.

Different areas and groups of people can be impacted more, creating differences in healthcare. Studying these patterns (e.g., how many new cases and how common it is) helps us prevent and manage the disease better—making public health better for everyone.

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease?

PAD can significantly impair the quality of life and lead to serious complications, such as foot ulcers, gangrene, and even amputation in advanced cases.

Atherosclerosis and plaque buildup inside the arteries cause PAD. Risk factors contributing to atherosclerosis, such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, can lead to PAD. Other risk factors include smoking, physical inactivity, and genetic predisposition.

Additional issues that can cause PAD include the following

Who Is at High Risk for Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease disproportionately impacts certain high-risk populations, including older adults and those with the following diseases, conditions, lifestyle habits, or genetic predispositions

Those with fewer resources or limited access to healthcare are also considered a high-risk population. Recognizing and understanding these vulnerable groups helps healthcare professionals focus on and improve preventative healthcare measures like a PAD test & screening for high-risk individuals.

What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease?

Not everyone with PAD has active symptoms. The longer the condition progresses, the more likely recognizable symptoms will develop.

Symptoms of PAD include cramping and leg pain. Fatigue and heaviness in the leg or hip muscles while walking are also common.

Additional symptoms include the following

PAD Diagnosis

Peripheral artery disease diagnosis typically involves a combination of medical history assessment, physical examination, and non-invasive tests such as ankle-brachial index (ABI) measurement, Doppler ultrasound, or arterial duplex scanning. 

Additionally, advanced imaging techniques like magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or computed tomography angiography (CTA) may be employed to provide detailed insights into the extent and severity of arterial blockages. 

Early and accurate diagnosis of PAD is crucial for initiating appropriate interventions and preventing complications such as limb ischemia and cardiovascular events.

How Is Peripheral Artery Disease Treated?

Treatment options for PAD include lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, managing risk factors such as diabetes, and smoking cessation.

Medications, such as platelet inhibitors, cholesterol-lowering, and hypertension drugs, might be prescribed to reduce the chance of blood clots and treat the risk factors that cause PAD.

In moderate to severe cases, revascularization treatments such as balloon angioplasty, atherectomy, or stent placement might be necessary to restore blood flow to the legs.


Prevention and management of PAD focuses on managing risk factors and early detection to halt disease progression.

Lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise, can reduce your risk significantly. Managing high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels can lower your risk. Quitting smoking is also essential for prevention.

Patients with PAD should maintain regular follow-up appointments with their physicians to monitor their condition, adjust medications, and discuss any changes in symptoms. Early detection of foot ulcers and tissue abnormalities can prevent serious complications like gangrene.

Compassionate, Comprehensive PAD Treatment

At Georgia Endovascular, our experts help patients identify and manage PAD. We typically recommend non-invasive or minimally invasive approaches over treatment medications for peripheral artery disease.

Individuals with the abovementioned risk factors should get tested for PAD. Early diagnosis can help prevent further complications and lead to more effective treatments.

To schedule a consultation, please contact our helpful representatives today.

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