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Peripheral Artery Disease Overview

Monday, 05 August 2019 00:00

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is commonly caused by a buildup of plaque deposited in the walls of blood vessels. This plaque is made of cholesterol and fatty substances that can cause the arteries to become stiff and narrowed. Patients at the highest risk for developing PAD are those with diabetes or those who have a history of smoking. Other risk factors include high cholesterol, kidney disease and high blood pressure. Some symptoms that can occur from PAD are muscle cramps, reduced blood flow, weakness in legs and feet, color changes in the skin and dark purple or black spots that can develop on the toes. There are some ways to combat the symptoms. Standing and resting for a few minutes will cause the symptoms that stopped someone from walking to resolve. Also over time, people with PAD will tend to limit what they do in order to avoid symptoms, walk slower and use a cane. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of peripheral artery disease, it is advised that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist.


Peripheral artery disease can pose a serious risk to your health. It can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. If you have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, consult with one of our podiatrists from Advanced Care Podiatry. Our doctors will assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is when arteries are constricted due to plaque (fatty deposits) build-up. This results in less blood flow to the legs and other extremities. The main cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up in the arteries.


Symptoms of PAD include:

  • Claudication (leg pain from walking)
  • Numbness in legs
  • Decrease in growth of leg hair and toenails
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sores and wounds on legs and feet that won’t heel
  • Coldness in one leg

It is important to note that a majority of individuals never show any symptoms of PAD.


While PAD occurs in the legs and arteries, Podiatrists can diagnose PAD. Podiatrists utilize a test called an ankle-brachial index (ABI). An ABI test compares blood pressure in your arm to you ankle to see if any abnormality occurs. Ultrasound and imaging devices may also be used.


Fortunately, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, managing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and quitting smoking, can all treat PAD. Medications that prevent clots from occurring can be prescribed. Finally, in some cases, surgery may be recommended.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Port Richmond, Philadelphia, and Hamilton, New Jersey. We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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