What Is The Treatment For Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Left untreated, Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can result in the development of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), heart attacks, or strokes. Yet despite the dangers associated with PAD, the American Heart Association estimates that only 25% of the population is aware of the disease. In fact, the SAGE group estimates that there are as many as 12.5 million Americans currently suffering from PAD without realizing it.

The most common cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries brought on by a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits) in the blood vessels. Without proper treatment, atherosclerosis can cause plaque deposits in an individual’s lower extremities, resulting in PAD. PAD is marked by decreased blood flow in the legs, feet and toes, and the symptoms include:

  • Claudication (mild to severe pain while walking or climbing stairs)
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in the lower leg or foot on one side of the individual’s body
  • Open sores on the toes and feet that won’t heal

As noted above, untreated PAD can lead to CAD, cardiac events, and/or atherosclerotic stroke. More immediate symptoms, however, can include the onset of gangrene in the feet or toes, ischemic rest pain (pain in the lower extremities that occurs even without physical activity), and a general diminishment of an individual’s quality of life.

Fortunately, PAD is treatable — depending on the severity of the disease and its progression, there are multiple treatment options available to individuals.

Lifestyle Changes

The least-invasive treatment option consists of simple lifestyle changes. PAD is common among smokers and individuals who suffer from diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol. In individuals with milder forms of PAD, certain lifestyle adjustments — such as smoking cessation, dietary improvements, and an exercise regimen — can be enough to address the symptoms of PAD and those of its underlying comorbidities.


Depending on the severity of the disease, some PAD sufferers may require medication in addition to the lifestyle changes noted above. Where pharmaceutical treatment is required, providers commonly prescribe high blood pressure medicine and antiplatelet medications (which thin the blood and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke) such as aspirin or Plavix.

In milder cases of PAD where exercise will likely improve a patient’s outcome, providers may also prescribe Pletal, a medication that allows individuals to walk greater distances before claudication sets in.

Interventional and Surgical Procedures

Patients with more advanced cases of PAD may require interventional procedures such as angioplasty to widen or clear the blocked vessel, stent placement to keep blood vessels open, or atherectomy to remove the blockage in the blood vessel.

There are also surgical options available to PAD sufferers; while research is currently in progress on new therapies, patients with advanced PAD may also need to consider peripheral artery bypass surgery. With peripheral artery bypass, an artificial blood vessel is placed next to the blocked artery, and the blood is rerouted to the “new” blood vessel, thereby avoiding the blockage.

What Is The Best Diet If You Have Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is most commonly caused by untreated atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that restricts blood flow. The primary cause of underlying atherosclerosis — which often leads to PAD and, if left unchecked for too long, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) — is a buildup of plaque or fatty deposits in the arteries.

Fortunately for patients with PAD, it is possible to slow or even halt the progression of atherosclerosis to the heart, where it can often prove fatal. In many instances, PAD can be managed with simple lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, increased physical activity, and an improved diet.

While quitting smoking and increasing physical activity are self-explanatory, dietary changes can be a source of confusion for PAD sufferers, which often leads to poor adherence to dietary advice. As a recent study notes, “The main identified factors [affecting adherence]…were motivation, individual knowledge, perceptions of moderation, self-responsibility, taste concept or cravings, and temptations.”

Fortunately, there are a number of diets that have been shown to benefit PAD sufferers. The specifics of the diet will, of course, depend on each individual’s dietary needs; however, most patients can fulfill their dietary restrictions by following one of the four diets listed below.

Mediterranean Diet

High LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad cholesterol”) is one of the primary contributors to atherosclerosis. The Mediterranean Diet is designed to increase “good cholesterol” (HDL-C) levels by incorporating larger amounts of olive oils; legumes (peas, beans and lentils); fruits and vegetables; wine; moderate-to-high amounts of fish; and moderate amounts of dairy, such as cheese and yogurt.


The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet focuses on lowering sodium and fat intake, both of which cause the fatty plaque deposits that contribute to atherosclerosis and often lead to the development of PAD and CAD.  This diet also requires a strict avoidance of alcohol.

Low-Fat Diet

Two comorbidities that put individuals at an increased risk of developing PAD are obesity and diabetes. The low-fat diet focuses on increasing nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while cutting down on fat and calories in order to control blood sugar levels and manage the individual’s weight, making it a perfect diet for diabetics or obese individuals who might develop PAD.

Low-Carb Diet

Many popular diets are of the low-carb variety, primarily because low-carb diets often help individuals lose weight. Low-carb diets can lower triglycerides and increase HDL-C levels, which are particularly beneficial to individuals with PAD. In addition, a low-carb diet coupled with a low-fat diet can help PAD sufferers lose weight and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries, thereby helping them avoid the progression of PAD or even the onset of CAD.

More articles PAD and QuantaFlo

How Is Peripheral Artery Disease Diagnosed?

Many diseases have specific presentations that can serve as indicators for medical providers to test for their presence. In the case of some diseases, however, the symptoms can be attributed by providers to any number of unrelated conditions and, therefore, overlooked. One disease whose symptoms are often mistaken for those of less-serious conditions is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

PAD most commonly occurs in the following two patient populations:

  • Individuals over the age of 70;
  • Individuals over the age of 50 with a medical history of diabetes or smoking, or;

While PAD can present in individuals under the age of 50 with a medical history of diabetes, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, such an occurrence is relatively rare in comparison to the aforementioned populations.

The root cause of PAD is untreated atherosclerosis, a hardening of the artery walls due to plaque buildup. It is commonly believed that atherosclerosis directly manifests in the form of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD); while this may be case in some instances, in many others, the symptoms of unchecked atherosclerosis first present as symptoms of PAD.

Symptoms of PAD include claudication (hip, thigh or calf pain after walking or climbing stairs), numbness, weakness, or a cold feeling in the legs and feet, open sores on legs, feet and toes that don’t heal, and ischemic rest pain (pain that occurs even in the absence of physical activity). Patients in at-risk populations who experience one or more of these symptoms are advised to schedule an appointment with their primary care physician for screening.

Because the symptoms of PAD often match those of the various comorbid conditions which put individuals at risk of PAD, the symptoms can often be mistaken as side effects of diabetes or simple aging. As a result, additional, more specific testing is typically required to properly ascertain whether or not the symptoms are attributable to PAD.

The QuantaFlo™ system from Semler Scientific is now used widely as a fast, reliable test to aid in the diagnosis of PAD.

Historically, the most common test for PAD is pulse and blood pressure checks in various areas of the body. Providers who find a weak or absent pulse in the lower extremities will often confirm the diagnosis with an ankle-brachial index (ABI), which compares the blood pressure in the patient’s ankle to the blood pressure in the patient’s arm.

In instances where the ABI does not definitively confirm PAD, providers may also request additional testing, such as ultrasound, angiography or catheter angiography. Some providers will also perform blood tests to evaluate an individual’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels and check for diabetes — this information can be invaluable in confirming whether or not a patient possesses any of the comorbid conditions often associated with PAD.

Why Diabetes Increases The Risk Of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is the result of untreated atherosclerosis, a hardening of the blood vessels most commonly caused by a buildup of plaque. Individuals with PAD often experience claudication (mild to severe leg pain while walking or climbing stairs); in extreme cases, PAD can cause ischemic rest pain: severe pain in the legs, feet or toes even when the individual is not walking or climbing stairs.

Beyond the onset of PAD, without proper diagnosis and treatment, atherosclerosis can lead to Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease in America, and atherothrombotic strokes. Therefore, for many individuals, PAD can serve as an early sign that they are at increased risk of potentially life-threatening diseases or medical events.

It is, of course, not advisable for individuals to wait for the onset of PAD symptoms before taking action. Individuals would do well to schedule a screening for atherosclerosis, particularly those in the following categories who are at particular risk of developing PAD:

  • Individuals over the age of 70;
  • Individuals over the age of 50 with a medical history of diabetes or smoking, or;
  • Individuals under the age of 50 with a medical history of diabetes, smoking, obesity, and/or high blood pressure

Individuals suffering from diabetes have a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis and, as a result, its attendant medical issues — including PAD. A study by the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the elevated risk is due to the increased inflammation and decreased blood flow common in patients with diabetes.

Moreover, the onset of diabetes typically means that an individual also possesses one (or more) of the traits most commonly associated with PAD, including high blood pressure, obesity, or physical activity.

The respective manifestations of the diseases are also remarkably similar. Both diabetics and PAD sufferers are particularly susceptible to developing critical limb ischemia (open sores on the legs or feet that do not heal on their own); left untreated, critical limb ischemia often leads to gangrene which may require amputation of the infected limb.

While it is recommended that individuals be screened regularly for atherosclerosis (particularly those in the aforementioned populations), patients with diabetes should take extra care to monitor their condition with their medical provider. Doing so will help patients to ensure that their diabetes does not manifest itself in the form of atherosclerosis and, by extension, PAD, CAD or stroke.

More articles on the topic: https://peripheralarteryanswers.com/quantaflo-vs-abi/

What is Peripheral Artery Disease and What You Need To Know About it

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease - PAD Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) – Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

Peripheral artery disease (also called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD), is a rather common circulatory problem in which restricted arteries reduce the blood flow to your limbs.

When you develop PAD, your extremities, usually your legs, don’t receive enough blood to keep up with your muscle’s demands. When this happens, you may develop symptoms, often leg pain when you walk (claudication).

Causes of PAD

PAD is usually caused by atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits (plaques) begin to build up in the walls of your artery and reduce the amount of blood flow. Plaque consists of fat, fibrous tissue calcium, cholesterol, and other substances in your blood.

Less common causes of PAD are blood clots in the arteries, injured limbs, and unusual anatomy of the ligaments and muscles.

Major risk factors

It is estimated that 8.5 million people in the U.S. have PAD, affecting approximately 12–20% of Americans over age 60.

PAD is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

• PAD is more common in African-Americans than other racial groups, and men are slightly more likely than women to develop PAD.

• PAD is also more common in smokers.

• People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing PAD due to reduced blood flow.

• Other risk factors that contribute to PAD are high blood pressure, obesity, increasing age, family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, and excessive levels of C-reactive protein or homocysteine.

Symptoms of PAD

• Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs (claudication)

• Leg numbness or weakness

• Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side

• Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal

• A change in the color of your legs

• Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs

• Slower growth of your toenails

• Shiny skin on your legs

• No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet

• Erectile dysfunction in men

If PAD progresses, pain may occur even when you’re resting or lying down (ischemic rest pain). It may be bad enough to disrupt your sleep. Hanging your legs over the edge of your bed or walking around your room may temporarily relieve the pain.

(PAD affects about 20 million Americans)

When to see your doctor

If you have leg pain, numbness or other symptoms, don’t dismiss them as a normal part of aging. Call your doctor and make an appointment.

Even if you don’t have symptoms of PAD, you may need to be screened if you are:

• Over age 70

• Over age 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking

• Under age 50, but have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, such as obesity or high blood pressure


Treatment for peripheral artery disease has two major goals:

1. Manage symptoms, such as leg pain, so that you can resume physical activities.

2. Stop the progression of atherosclerosis throughout your body to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

You may be able to achieve these goals with lifestyle changes. If you are a smoker, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce your risk of complications.

If changes in your lifestyle are not enough, you will need to seek additional medical treatment.

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What Is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) – Treatment, Causes & Symptoms

QuantaFlo vs ABI in Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)


QuantaFlo vs ABI Testing – Which is the Best?

QuantaFlo vs ABI Testing in Peripheral Arterial Disease - Best Testing Method

QuantaFlo vs ABI: Here are some of the leading reasons that top medical providers choose QuantaFlo ™ testing for assisting in the diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) rather than settling for conventional :

QuantaFlo vs ABI: QuantaFlo is More Efficient than ABI

With the QuantaFlo System from Semler Scientific, accurate PAD testing and results reporting can be done in minutes by medical aides on the frontlines of medical care where it counts most: in the primary care office, in specialty medical practices, during home health visits, and at health fairs.  In contrast, accurate ABI test results require specially-trained vascular technicians with years of experience working in dedicated vascular laboratories and only after a physician has prescribed the testing. This is like only being prescribed a blood pressure test if your physician suspects you have high blood pressure.

QuantaFlo is FDA-cleared for the Diagnosis of PAD

The FDA has cleared the QuantaFlo System to aid in the diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease through the QuantaFlo 510(K). In addition, the system is in keeping with the 2016 AHA/ACC Guidelines on the Management of Patients with Lower Extremity Peripheral Arterial Disease.
quantaflo vs ABI FDA cleared - best testing method for PAD

QuantaFlo is Created and Backed by Proven Medical Experts

The core QuantaFlo technology was developed by well-known cardiologist Herbert Semler, MD who has over 50 years in medical practice, vast experience with older ABI technologies, and a history of cardiovascular innovation and inventions to help patients.  In addition, Semler Scientific’s physicians, nurses and other employees have literally decades of medical experience and a proven track record of success in bringing ground-breaking medical technologies to the market.

Quantaflo testing advantages over ABI - Peripheral Artery Disease Testing

QuantaFlo vs ABI: QuantaFlo is More Practical than ABI

When it comes to diagnosing PAD, relying solely on the physician’s physical exam and patient reports of symptoms has proven to be insufficient. Many patients with peripheral artery disease or PAD are asymptomatic and unless the physician suspects PAD, they would not normally be referred for an ABI test. By routinely testing patients at high risk for PAD in the primary care office with QuantaFlo, many patients benefit from early warning and the opportunity to make lifestyle changes such as increased exercise, better diet and smoking cessation which may help avoid future vascular interventions. Patients at high risk can include those over 65 not previously diagnosed with PAD, patients over 50 years old with a history of smoking or diabetes, or patients with claudication, critical limb ischemia (CLI), non-healing ulcer/wound or neuropathic leg pain.

QuantaFlo System Has Successfully Tested Hundreds of Thousands of Patients

The QuantaFlo System has been proven effective in daily use throughout the country in medical offices, hospitals, clinics and during home health visits. Keep in mind, PAD is one of the leading causes of strokes among many health issues.

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10 Ways to Increase Your Lifespan

Symptoms and Diagnosis of PAD

Peripheral Artery Disease

10 Ways to Increase Your Lifespan

10 Ways to Increase Your Lifespan - How to Live Longer - How to Expand your Life Expectancy

Peripheral artery disease

How to Extend Your Life Expectancy

While we still haven’t found the elusive Fountain of Youth, there are many things we can do to live longer, fuller and healthier lives while we are here.

The following 10 ways to increase your lifespan will help you to defend against disease and increase your longevity:

1) Sleep More

“If you sleep less than six hours per night, you’re not going to live as long,” says Dr. Steven Wilson, an MDVIP physician in Redlands, California.

Most adults need to go experience at least five sleep cycles each night (approximately 7.5 hours) to fully rest and repair both body and mind.

Research has shown that going without this period of recovery every night, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and anxiety. (1)

2) Eat in Healthy Moderation

Proper nutrition is the key to good health. “Everyone should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day—of various colors, which represent different phytonutrients,” says Wilson.

It’s also important to maintain a moderate caloric intake. Excess weight has been linked to metabolic disorders such as an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease.

Eating a diet of lean protein, produce, healthy fats and a minimal amount of processed foods is the best way to keep your body working properly for as long as possible. (2)

3) Speed Up Your Brain

Researchers studied nearly 2,800 seniors for 10 years and compared those who did speed-of-processing brain games (they measure how quickly you can carry out simple cognitive tasks), with those who did reasoning or memory games.

Those adults who focused on brain-processing speed were 33% less likely to get dementia and had a 50% reduction in being involved in car accidents. (3)

4) Exercise Wisely

“Maintaining muscle strength as you age is imperative to long-term health and longevity,” says Rachel Straub, coauthor of Weight Training Without Injury.

“Higher levels of muscle strength reduce the risk of falls, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and all-cause mortality.”

To counteract the loss of muscle and bone mass that begins around age 35, experts suggest doing at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardiovascular exercise in addition to regular weight training and stretching. (4)

5) Cut Back on Sugar Consumption

Numerous studies have shown that cutting sugar can lower circulating triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, high blood glucose and hypertension. All of these are risk factors for metabolic disorders such as heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar a day for women and no more than nine teaspoons for men. (5)

6) Test How Your Body Responds to Medications

Not every drug works the same for every person. Making sure your medications are right for you, could prevent disease and extend your life.

Some companies offer saliva-based tests that analyze the genetic variations in metabolic pathways to see how well you process different medications.

Your doctor can order tests to help prescribe the most effective medications with the fewest possible side effects based on your individual genetic profile. (6)

7) Meditate

Stress can cause the body to go into the fight-or-flight mode. This raises your cortisol levels, increases your blood pressure and may cause chronic inflammation that will increase the risk for all types of diseases.

The ancient practice of meditation has been shown to reduce stress in ways that actually change your brain.

Harvard conducted a study in 2011 that found participants who meditated, experienced a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas linked to attention and emotional integration. (7)

In 2015, a study from UCLA showed that longtime practitioners of meditation had more gray matter volume, which helps with memory and cognition. (8)

8) Be Proactive About Screening

If you don’t have a regular doctor who monitors your health closely, the responsibility of getting the right screening tests is on you.

“Stay up to date with screenings; without them, you’re putting yourself at risk,” says Franjo Vladic, a gastroenterologist at the Center for Digestive Health in Willoughby, Ohio.

An example of one such screening is the QuantaFlo PAD Test by Semler Scientific, which leads the way in Vascular Disease testing. (9)

9) Add Some Spice to Your Life

“Spices like turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper have anti-inflammatory properties and strengthen the immune system,” says Dr. Taz Bhatia, integrative health expert and author of What Doctors Eat.

A trial published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that turmeric can be just as effective as ibuprofen in treating osteoarthritis of the knee.

Other studies have shown that turmeric has the potential to slow the growth of cancerous tumor cells and help prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). (10)

10) Learn the History of Your Family’s Health

If you know that a relative carries a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, which increases the risk for ovarian, breast and prostate cancer, ask your physician about getting tested for that mutation. (11)

“Getting a genetic test once can help guide prostate cancer screening throughout the entirety of a man’s adult life,” says Dr. Jianfeng Xu, director of the Program for Personalized Cancer Care at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago.

Dr. Xu adds, “Men who have any pathogenic mutation should consider prostate cancer screening earlier and more frequently.”

We all know that we have to go sometime, but by putting a relatively small amount of effort into the way we live and the choices we make, we can help ourselves to live longer happier, and more fulfilling lives.

You might also be interested in: Can PAD Affect Pregnancy?


  1. http://sleep.stanford.edu/research/
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/best-diet-quality-counts/
  3. https://www.brainhq.com/world-class-science/published-research/processing-speed
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/exerciseforseniors.html
  5. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.WlZSIbynF6o
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011946/
  7. https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Harvard%20Now%20and%20Zen%20Reading%20Materials.pdf
  8. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/forever-young-meditation-might-slow-the-age-related-loss-of-gray-matter-in-the-brain-say-ucla-researchers
  9. http://www.semlerscientific.com/quantaflo-pad-interventional-radiology/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10559523
  11. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/risk-assessment-screening/hereditary-genetics/genetic-counseling/brca1-brca2-genes-risk-breast-ovarian


10 Ways to Increase Your Lifespan. How to Live Longer & Better!

Can Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Affect Pregnancy?

Peripheral Artery Disease and Pregnancy - Can PAD Affect Pregnancy - PAD effects on pregnant women

Can PAD Affect Pregnancy?

Peripheral Artery Disease and Pregnancy

For many years, it was believed that Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) was more common in men than in women. However, recent studies using more sensitive screening methods have found that PAD occurs just as frequently in women as it does in men; in fact, some research indicates that PAD may, in fact, be more prevalent in women.

While PAD can often be treated or properly managed with lifestyle changes, more advanced or severe cases can require a more rigorous approach. However, there are distinct differences between men and women which can make it more difficult for medical providers to properly treat PAD in women; for example, men and women have different responses to revascularization treatments.

And unlike men, female patients may also need to contend with any complications that PAD may cause in pregnancy. Such an event is unlikely, as most PAD sufferers are over the age of 70 — 50 if they have a history of diabetes or smoking. In fact, generally speaking, research has shown that it is more common for complications during pregnancy to eventually lead to PAD in female patients (and not the other way around).

However, PAD can still occur in women under the age of 50 — particularly if they have a family history of PAD or if they themselves have a medical history of diabetes, smoking, obesity, and/or high blood pressure. A medical history of the type most often found in women at risk of PAD would also introduce potentially serious complications in pregnancy independent of PAD.

Beyond intermittent discomfort or pain in the legs or lower extremities (already common in pregnant women), PAD itself typically does not affect pregnancy. The underlying condition that leads to PAD — atherosclerosis — can impact pregnancy, particularly when pregnant women experience chest pain.

Women with atherosclerosis are at an increased risk for angina, the symptoms of which can mimic that of heartburn. And because heartburn is common in pregnant women, female patients with atherosclerosis may mistake angina for heartburn and forego treatment, posing a serious risk to their health

The individuals most likely to suffer from PAD under the age of 50 likely also suffer from a host of comorbidities that pose a much greater — and more direct — threat to a fetus, and those conditions should be addressed as soon as possible. So while PAD should not be of particular concern to pregnant women, its symptoms (particularly shiny skin on the legs, discoloration of the lower limbs, and/or coldness or numbness in the legs, feet and toes) may point to a more serious medical condition that requires immediate attention.

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How Can Pad Affect Pregnant Women


Identifying Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Symptoms - PAD Diagnosis - How to Identify PAD

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Symptoms, Signs & Diagnosis

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Symptoms, Signs & Diagnosis

The symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) are more easily recognizable by the general population, and for good reason: CAD — caused by untreated atherosclerosis — is the primary contributor in all heart attacks. Many individuals with CAD may not recognize the symptoms before it’s too late; fortunately, there is another marker for untreated atherosclerosis with symptoms that present far earlier: Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

By identifying atherosclerosis when it manifests as PAD, individuals may give themselves additional time to treat the underlying condition, thereby decreasing their risk for heart attack and stroke. To do so, however, it is crucial that individuals recognize the symptoms of PAD.

PAD most commonly occurs in individuals over the age of 70; however, smokers or individuals with a history of diabetes can be at risk as early as age 50. The primary symptom of PAD is claudication, or leg pain when walking. The severity of claudication can vary depending on the individual.

Some PAD sufferers experience only mild pain or no pain at all, making a proper diagnosis of PAD much more difficult. However, some PAD sufferers experience severe to debilitating claudication when walking. If the disease is not properly treated, this pain may progress beyond claudication to ischemic rest pain; that is, pain that occurs even when the individual is not engaging in any physical activity.

Individuals afflicted with PAD may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Claudication in hip, thigh or calf muscles, particularly after walking or climbing stairs
  • Numbness or weakness in the lower extremities
  • Coldness in the leg or foot, typically isolated to one side
  • Sores on legs, feet or toes that will not heal
  • Change in leg color or shiny skin on legs
  • Loss or reduced growth in hair on legs and toenails
  • Weak or no pulse in legs or feet

Some of these symptoms are often mistaken for simple signs of aging, particularly the two most common symptoms of PAD (claudication and hair loss). Therefore, a preventative approach — rather than a curative approach — is preferable.

It is recommended that individuals schedule a screening for PAD if they are over the age of 70; over the age of 50 and have a medical history of diabetes or smoking; are under the age of 50 with a medical history of diabetes, obesity, and/or high blood pressure; or produce high levels of homocysteine.

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Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease – PAD Diagnosis – How to Identify PAD

How Is PAD Related To Stroke And Heart Attack?

How Can PAD Lead to Heart Attack & Stroke - Relation, Effects, Symptoms

How Is PAD Related To Stroke And Heart Attack?

How Can PAD Lead to Heart Attack & Stroke? Effects & Symptoms

Of all the medical conditions that might affect an individual, Americans are particularly concerned with the risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2010 survey by Harris Interactive found that heart disease and stroke were two of the top five diseases feared most by Americans.

These concerns are well-founded; heart disease and stroke can dramatically impact an individual’s quality of life — or even prove fatal, depending on the severity. But while Americans rightfully fear these risks, far too many individuals are unaware of a condition that can serve as an early-warning indicator of an impending cardiac or cerebrovascular incident: Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD.

Heart attacks are most commonly caused by untreated Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and the most common form of stroke is an atherothrombotic stroke; however, these afflictions do not occur overnight. The root cause of CAD and atherothrombotic strokes is untreated atherosclerosis, a hardening of the blood vessels due to plaque buildup. But before untreated atherosclerosis progresses to CAD or an atherothrombotic stroke, it can first present as PAD.

PAD is most commonly found in the following patient populations:

  • Individuals over the age of 70;
  • Individuals over the age of 50 with a history of diabetes or smoking, or;
  • Individuals under the age of 50 with a history of diabetes, smoking, obesity and/or high blood pressure

There are many symptoms of PAD, but in nearly every case, PAD sufferers experience intermittent claudication — leg, hip or foot pain while walking or climbing stairs. The severity of the leg pain can vary wildly; some patients may only feel minor discomfort, while others may experience extreme pain. For many individuals in the patient populations listed above, these symptoms can be the first indicator that they may need to schedule a screening for atherosclerosis with their primary care physician.

Because of the ages and/or potential comorbidities of these populations, many providers dismiss the symptoms as neuropathy related to aging or other existing conditions. However, additional symptoms — such as leg numbness or weakness, a change in leg color known as brawny edema, hair loss on the legs and feet, or thickening or loss of toenails — can help providers more accurately determine whether the claudication is simple neuropathy or an indicator of PAD.

In many instances, PAD can be treated with simple lifestyle changes. In more advanced cases, pharmaceutical or surgical intervention (including blood pressure medications, angioplasty, or thrombolytic therapy) may be required. Early detection and treatment of PAD can help lower the odds of a more severe medical event — including heart attack and stroke.

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