Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the narrowing of the peripheral arteries that carry blood away from heart to other parts of the body. The most common type of PAD is lower extremity PAD in which blood flow is reduced in the legs and feet. PAD usually occurs when fatty deposits (plaque) build up in the walls of arteries, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, approximately 8.5 million Americans are affected by PAD, and the condition is more common in individuals over the age of 50 and those with a history of smoking or diabetes.
According to Jacobs, “Early symptoms are a feeling of running out of gas. The oxygen in the muscles is not getting replenished enough because of the blocked arteries.” Worsening PAD can be identified when injuries or wounds won’t heal. The condition can turn into a limb-threatening problem at this stage and treatment is recommended swiftly.
What causes peripheral arterial disease?
Peripheral arterial disease is commonly caused by atherosclerosis - a process where fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) build up on the walls of arteries, leading to reduced blood flow through the affected areas.
Other causes and risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of PAD or cardiovascular disease
Peripheral arterial disease signs and symptoms:
- Pain or cramping in the legs, thighs or buttocks
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Sores or ulcers that won’t heal
- Changes in skin color in the legs or feet
Treatment of peripheral arterial disease:
Treatment for peripheral arterial disease aims to improve blood flow and prevent limb threatening complications and pain. In addition to lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, the following treatments are recommended:
- Medications such as blood thinners
- Angioplasty or stent placement
- Bypass surgery
Dr. Jacobs treats patients at CU Medicine Vascular Surgery – Aurora where minimally invasive procedures are used to treat peripheral arterial disease and other vascular conditions. Learn more about the clinic and how to schedule an appointment here.