What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Peripheral artery disease is a type of arterial disease which affects the extremities of the body, most commonly the legs. It is classified as a type of arteriosclerosis, because it is caused by a narrowing of the arteries resulting in decreased blood flow. It is also known as peripheral vascular disease (PAD), in reference to the vascular system of veins and arteries which supplies blood to the body. Up to 20% of people over the age of 70 may be affected by peripheral artery disease, and some of these patients may never be diagnosed.

When arterial disease occurs in the arteries around the heart, it is known as coronary artery disease, and can lead to a heart attack. In the extremities, peripheral artery disease can cause amputations if it is not identified and addressed early. Regular medical examinations and an established relationship with a long term doctor can help to ensure whole body health, and to identify emergent problems in the early stages. If your family has a history of vascular disease, you may want to consider more frequent examinations.


Peripheral artery disease is caused by plaque which collects inside the arteries, causing them to have restricted blood flow. Arterial narrowing may not be a big problem when the body is at rest, but in motion the muscles require greater blood flow. As a result, the first sign of peripheral artery disease is usually a tingling or numb feeling in the extremities after exercise as the muscles seize due to lack of blood flow.

Several things can reduce your risk factors for peripheral artery disease. Non-smokers are at far less risk for it. People who eat a diet low in fat and cholesterol also are less susceptible, as are individuals who exercise regularly and maintain healthy blood pressure. In addition to preventing peripheral artery disease, these measures prevent a variety of other health problems as well, and will result in a longer, healthier life.

If diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, several medical measures can be taken. Several medications can lower cholesterol in the body, while others target the muscle cramping, also known as claudication. In extreme cases, surgical measures may need to be taken to widen the arteries or replace them. A doctor will pick out an individual course of treatment which is right for the patient, taking numerous factors including age, lifestyle, and family history into account.



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Post 2

I am a 46 year old male and I have PAD. 20 months ago, I had a stent placed in my iliac artery because there was a 100 percent blockage. For the most part the only blood that was getting down my leg to my foot was by new vessels my body was making to try to naturally bypass the blockage.

I would have severe pain in my leg, thigh and buttock when I walked as little as 25 yards. After having the stent placed and recovering from that (about a week if I remember correctly), I walked, and walked and walked. It was like a miracle had occurred. I played ball with my boys. I raced them the full

length of a football field after a game one evening -- running! I believe the stent is an amazing temporary fix. And I believe your mother will certainly gain some pain relief from the procedure, maybe a great deal of relief.

But remember, at 70 years of age, there could be some other parts getting worn down that might be causing some of her pain, as well. The angioplasty is only minorly intrusive and can be done while awake with slight sedation.

Post 1

My mother is 70 years. old. She has been told by her vascular surgeon that she has blocked arteries in the top of her legs. She has pain in her hips and legs constantly (when walking).

Is this extreme pain caused by her condition, and if so, when she has the ballooning done to open the arteries will this pain go away?



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