What are the Different Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which the arteries, the blood vessels that transfer blood from the heart to other parts of the body, become narrowed. The narrowness of the arteries prevents blood flow and oxygen from properly reaching the limbs. Peripheral artery disease symptoms tend to occur most often in the legs, but may be able to be treated with medications, surgeries, or lifestyle changes.

One of the most common peripheral artery disease symptoms is intermittent claudication. This is a condition in which the muscles of the legs tighten up and cause pain during walking, running, or climbing stairs. The cramping and pain tend to subside when the activity stops. The severity of the pain of intermittent claudication will vary widely depending on how far the disease has progressed.

Peripheral artery disease may also cause changes in the physical attributes of the legs. The temperature of the feet or legs may be colder than throughout the rest of the body, due to the reduced amount of circulation they receive. The skin on the feet and legs may also take on a different color than normal. The disease can also result in the formation of sores on the feet and legs that never fully heal.


Patients with peripheral artery disease have an abnormal pulse. The area that is most affected by the disease, usually the legs, may have little to no pulse in that area. If a doctor discovers this during a physical examination, he or she may determine it to be a warning sign of the disease, even if it has not been diagnosed, and may order more tests to check for additional peripheral artery disease symptoms.

Peripheral artery disease symptoms can also occur on the skin hair, and nails. The disease can cause the skin to take on a shiny appearance. A person with the condition may start gradually losing the hair on his or her head and may also notice a reduced growth in body hair. The nails, particularly the toenails, may also experience a slower growth than normal.

Although the legs and feet tend to be most affected by the disease, it can also cause symptoms in other extremities of the body. Men with peripheral artery disease may experience erectile dysfunction as a result of the condition. Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a male has difficulty attaining and keeping an erection, often due to lack of blood flow to the area, and can keep him from being able to have intercourse. It may be able to be treated with a prescription medication to help increase blood flow to the penis.



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