What is the Most Common Symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease?

What is the Most Common Symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral Artery Disease exists both symptomatically and asymptomatically. That means, that one patient might display symptoms of the condition, and another none at all.  

What can a person with symptomatic PAD expect? 

There are various symptoms linked to PAD, and each person is unlikely to have the same ones. However, the most common symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease, Claudication, is one that most people appear to have.  

The Most Common Symptom of PAD 

Claudication, in and of itself, is also varied. According to the MayoClinic, one person might experience mild to sharp pain, and others might feel a more numbing pain (a.i. cramps.) Either way, claudication is caused by a lack of blood flow. For PAD, claudication exists in the lower extremities, but intermittent claudication can affect the arms as well.  

For most people, claudication is felt only when exercising, but as the plaque build-up caused by PAD worsens (and blood is unable to pass through), according to research from John Hopkins Medicine, a patient might feel pain even when they’re resting.  

If you’re experiencing claudication as a symptom of PAD, there are treatments available that can help you get back on your feet. Such treatments might include medication (to help with the pain, to prevent clotting, etc.) or even surgical procedures like angioplasty and stenting (for clearing clogged arteries and then providing it support.)  

Other Common Symptoms of PAD 

Other symptoms that are commonly present in patients with PAD include:  

  • Coldness in the legs and feet that is not mirrored in both sides (only one leg feels cold); 
  • Sores on your lower extremities that do not heal; 
  • Discoloration in the skin around your legs and feet, the skin might also appear shiny, or brittle in comparison to everywhere else; 
  • Hair loss, or hair that doesn’t grow on the legs and feet; 
  • Possible erectile dysfunction in men; 
  • And finally, nails that either do not grow or suddenly turn brittle.   

Much like claudication, some of these symptoms can be made less severe with the application of treatment in the form of medication or surgical procedures.  

Conclusion — What is the Most Common Symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease? 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, or a grouping of the symptoms, mentioned above, then it’s vital that you talk to your doctor. This is especially true if you are feeling intermittent claudication (whether during exercise or at rest.) There is no known cure for PAD. However, there are plenty of treatments that can help you get over its more common symptoms.  

The earlier that you are diagnosed, the better off you will be. If treated early enough, you will not have to worry about any of the symptoms mentioned above intruding into your daily life.  



  1. “Claudication.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 Apr. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/claudication/symptoms-causes/syc-20370952. 
  2. “Symptoms & Treatment of Claudication.” Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/claudication_85,P08251. 
  3. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-arterial-disease-pad/ 

Can You Reverse Peripheral Artery Disease?

Can You Reverse Peripheral Artery Disease

Whether Peripheral Artery Disease is reversible is a bit of a yes and no. In a sense that while there are methods of treating the symptoms of PAD, the disease itself cannot be cured.  

So, to answer the questions as to if you can reverse Peripheral Artery Disease, it’s a strong maybe. However, if you are proactive about treating its symptoms, then a healthier and pain-free life might be in the works for you!  

Common Symptoms of PAD 

In order to discuss reversal techniques, we must first discuss what is there to reverse in the first place! PAD exists both symptomatically and asymptomatically. That means, you either get the short end of the stick (wherein you feel all or some of the most common symptoms) or the better-end (wherein you experience little to no symptoms at all.)  

According to NHS UK, the most common symptoms of PAD include: 

  • Claudication; sharp or numbing pain felt after exercising; 
  • Overall weakness or numbness in the legs and feet; 
  • Physical abnormalities, which includes brittleness in the toenails, wiry hair, or even discoloration in skin pigmentation; 
  • and finally, sores and wounds that do not heal. 

Make Healthy Life Choices 

The first and simplest way to ‘reverse’ the symptoms of PAD is through a series of lifestyle changes. In most patients, living healthier can very well put a stop to all their symptoms altogether! 

For example, smoking is known to be one of the worst things a patient can do to perpetuate PAD. Thus, it is recommended that one cease smoking immediately — in some cases, smoking cessation has even been said to substantially reduce the risk for PAD in patients!  

Exercising or changing to a low-fat and healthy-diet has also been known to decrease the intrusiveness of the condition. This is all about maintaining a healthier weight, keeping active, and making sure that your body is getting all the right nutrients (and none of the wrong ones!) 

In some cases, like when a patient with PAD just so happens to have diabetes as well, more serious actions must be taken to help control blood pressure, glucose levels, etc. This would involve getting in touch with a doctor, who should be able to provide a recommendation as to the kind of medication you might need.   

Other Options 

Of course, sometimes, just changing your lifestyle for the better might not be enough. Fortunately, there are other options that you can consider. These might include:  

  • Angioplasty: PAD occurs due to a build-up of plaque around the arteries. Angioplasty, when applicable, is done in order to get rid of that plaque. Note, this is a highly intrusive operation — requiring an overnight stay and a procedure that involves inserting a tube through your arteries.  
  • Stenting: This usually happens in conjunction with angioplasty (which has a tendency of weakening the arteries.) For this procedure, a mesh-tube is placed (called a stent) to support the weakened artery.  
  • Bypass Surgery: In certain specialized cases, the blocked-up artery will be completely left blocked in favor of ‘installing’ a new artery. Hence, the name bypass — as it allows blood to bypass blockages by using a new artery instead.  

Conclusion — Can You Reverse Peripheral Artery Disease? 

In the end, there are lots of options available that you can use to ‘reverse’ your PAD. However, the best, and easiest option is to simply live a much healthier life! Of course, such methods are usually more effective when the disease is still in its early stages. So, the earlier that you get diagnosed, the better!  



  1. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-arterial-disease-pad/. 
  2. Conen, David, et al. “Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and Risk for Symptomatic Peripheral Artery Disease in Women: A Cohort Study.” Annals of Internal Medicine, American College of Physicians, 7 June 2011, annals.org/aim/article-abstract/746966/smoking-smoking-cessation-risk-symptomatic-peripheral-artery-disease-women-cohort?doi=10.7326/0003-4819-154-11-201106070-00003.  

Can Exercise Cure PAD?

Can Exercise Cure PAD

At present, there is no known cure for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) In its early form, PAD is not debilitating. However, once the disease begins to progress, it may result in life-threatening conditions. To prevent that, there have been studies linking PAD to various methods of treatment.  

Such treatments do not allow the patient to be completely rid of the condition, however, it will allow the patient to live without PAD’s more common symptoms. One of the most popular treatments available is the inclusion of exercise in one’s daily routine.  

Physical Activity 

Exercise is an accepted form of treatment for symptoms of PAD. The actual physical activity, in this case, can be varied. In some cases, the patient might even benefit from having a professional guide them through their exercises (if only to prevent injury and ensure that progress is made.)  

Benefits of Exercise 

Broadly speaking, exercise is beneficial for treating symptoms of PAD. However, if one were to look at it more closely, then specific benefits can be introduced. Like, for example, the following: 

  • Reduces claudication (pain or numbness) in the legs and feet; 
  • Allows patients to exercise more readily; 
  • Potentially prevents or improves physical disability caused by PAD; 
  • and, it decreases the risk of mortal danger due to cardiovascular events (which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.) 

These aforementioned benefits are more than worth the initial pain and trouble of exercising. Of course, that doesn’t mean that a patient should jump into just any exercise program. A patient’s unique capabilities and their overall condition greatly affects the type of exercise that might be recommended for them  

Types of Exercises to Cure PAD 

There’s a bunch of different types of exercises that can help a patient treat symptoms of PAD. However, they can broadly be divided between two types of exercises. These two types are: 

  • Supervised Exercise: According to the American Heart Association, it’s best if PAD patients participate in exercise therapy that is tailored specifically for them. This way, the patient’s progress can be supervised and good results can be insured.  
  • Home-Based Exercise: If supervised exercise is unavailable, then there are various home-based exercise programs that can be a convenient alternative. However, doctor consultation is definitely still recommended prior to engaging in any home-based exercise programs.  

Conclusion — Can Exercise Cure PAD? 

In conclusion, while exercise cannot completely cure a person of PAD, it is one of the best methods of treating its symptoms. In this case, taking the initiative to do something about your condition is the best, and the only way to be able to get control back into your life again.  



  1. Schiattarella, et al. “Physical Activity in the Prevention of Peripheral Artery Disease in the Elderly.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 7 Jan. 2014, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2014.00012/full. 
  2. “Archive of All Online Content.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.881888. 
  3. “Prevention and Treatment of PAD.” About Heart Attacks, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/peripheral-artery-disease/prevention-and-treatment-of-pad. 

10 Foods That Improve Blood Circulation in Legs

10 Foods That Improve Blood Circulation in Legs

There is no known cure for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), only preventive measures that can help improve blood circulation in the lower extremities. For our subject today, we’re going to specifically be focusing on 10 foods that improve blood circulation in legs.


  1. Oranges

The first item in this list of foods to help improve blood circulation in legs are Oranges. Oranges and other citrus fruits are known for their natural ability to reduce blood viscosity and improve arterial health (keeping arteries strong and flexible.)  

The magic ingredient, in this case, is Vitamin C. Vitamin C, is a mineral essential in the formation of collagen, which is important for the microcirculation of blood. If you’re not the type to enjoy oranges, you can also try lemons, pineapples, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, etc.  


  1. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, according to new studies, can help improve arterial health and reduce high blood pressure. It’s the cacao content in dark chocolate, filled with a substance called flavonoids, that can prevent inflammation and help improve circulation in individuals who are at risk for certain cardiovascular complications.  


  1. Nuts

Nuts offer double in beneficial nutrients. Namely, Magnesium and L-Arginine. The Magnesium is said to help relax arteries and allow for easy dilation, which works cooperatively with L-Arginine — a material that produces nitric oxide which prompts said dilations. 


  1. Garlic

Outside of Garlic’s other uses, there are also studies that would suggest that it can help treat atherosclerosis by preventing plaque build-up and cleansing the blood. In conjunction with that fact, similar foods like onions, leeks, and radishes are also suspected of having the same benefits.  


  1. Natto

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. It’s known to be particularly healthy, offering many benefits. Which just so happens to include an ability to reduce blood viscosity (making blood less viscous – thick and sticky – to prevent clotting.)  

According to a recent study in 2015, these benefits are from a nutrient called nattokinase — which is able to reduce the amount of fibrin (a substance necessary for clotting to occur) in the body.  


  1. Cold Water Fish

Cold-water fish, specifically, are known to be rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These are the healthiest of fats, making them perfect for keeping your circulatory system in good condition.  

In this case, the Omega-3 fats are also said to be able to help reduce inflammation and blood viscosity — thus, ensuring that your arteries can dilate as needed and that your blood is thin enough to pass through easily.


  1. Beets

Similar to the L-Arginine in nuts, beets contain a substance that produces nitric oxide — which, as mentioned earlier, prompts arteries to dilate and contract as needed. As a double benefit, beets are also rich in Vitamins (like Vitamin C, which as we discussed, is good for thinning the blood and improving arterial health.)  


  1. Sunflower Seeds

Similar to the nattokinase that reduces production of fibrin, the Vitamin E in sunflower seeds has also been said to help prevent clotting. Such benefits are also available in pumpkin seeds and olives.  


  1. Watermelon

With watermelon, the improvement of blood circulation is credited to a natural antioxidant called lycopene. Although still unproven, lycopene is suspected of protecting damaged arteries.  


  1. Cayenne Pepper

Presently, cayenne pepper is better known for helping improve metabolism. However, there are preliminary studies that suggest that cayenne pepper can also help strengthen arterial walls and prevent inflammation and other damages.  


Conclusion — 10 Foods That Improve Blood Circulation in Legs 

Poor circulation in the legs and feet is attributed to complications that might result in coronary and cardiovascular diseases. In such cases, a one-and-done cure is not available. Instead, dietary changes like the ones suggested above are vital in ensuring that the disease does not progress any further.  



  1.  Vlachopoulos, C, et al. “Effect of Dark Chocolate on Arterial Function in Healthy Individuals: Cocoa Instead of Ambrosia?” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17147918. 
  2. Sanjay K Banerjee, and Subir K Maulik. “Effect of Garlic on Cardiovascular Disorders: a Review.” Nutrition Journal, BioMed Central, 19 Nov. 2002, nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-1-4. 
  3. Kurosawa, Yuko, et al. “A Single-Dose of Oral Nattokinase Potentiates Thrombolysis and Anti-Coagulation Profiles.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 25 June 2015, www.nature.com/articles/srep11601 

What Vitamins are Good for Blood Circulation?

What Vitamins are Good for Blood Circulation?

Vitamins play a big part in keeping the human body operating properly. Of course, one vitamin won’t necessarily serve the same purpose as another. In accordance with that fact, there is a select number of vitamins that deal directly with blood circulation.  

What vitamins are good for blood circulation? We’ve compiled a list of the more crucial vitamins down below:  

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is a big player in the body in general. Without it, the body is unable to properly form blood vessels. Not only that, but it does a thorough job in improving blood circulation. With positive results being studied in a variety of patients (ranging from healthy individuals to even those that are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.)  

If you want to supplement your diet with Vitamin C, you can source it naturally from citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits, etc.), bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, etc.  

Vitamin E 

Another Vitamin known for promoting good blood circulation is Vitamin E. It can be sourced naturally in a number of oils (sunflower oil, pumpkin oil, hazelnut oil, nut oils in general, etc.)  

With Vitamin E, the benefit is the production of nitric oxide. According to a review conducted in 2006, the increased production of nitric oxide has led to a decrease in high blood pressure. More specifically, nitric oxide is said to relax the dilation of arteries (allowing blood to more easily pass through.)  

B Vitamins 

In a more general manner, there is also a number of B Vitamins that are known to positively affect blood pressure. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6, for example, are currently being tested for their effects on blood pressure in randomized trials made up of adults.  

As of right now, results are varied, but there are preliminary studies that have hinted at positive results.  

Other Essential Minerals Good for Blood Circulation 

Other essential minerals important for promoting good blood circulation includes Iron. Which, as you might already know, is important in the production of blood. Outside of that, it’s also been said that iron deficiency can cause high blood pressure.  

Is it Okay to Take Vitamins as Supplements? 

Nowadays, it’s quite common to take vitamins and other essential minerals in the form of supplements. As an example, a lot of bodybuilders make use of “pre-workout” supplements that improve circulation prior to exercising to maximize muscle growth. 

It’s a proven-to-work method of filling up on all minerals that your body needs to continue functioning. However, if you feel safer going the natural route, there are ways (as we mentioned above) of naturally sourcing the vitamins that are good for blood circulation.  

Conclusion — What Vitamins are Good for Blood Circulation? 

Vitamins all serve their purposes, and sometimes they serve more than one. For blood circulation, the big players are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and a handful of B-Vitamins. If you want to take control of your circulatory system, make sure that you’re packing a healthy amount of these vitamins.  



  1.  Teramoto, K, et al. “Acute Effect of Oral Vitamin C on Coronary Circulation in Young Healthy Smokers.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15309000. 
  2. Hermann, M, et al. “Nitric Oxide in Hypertension.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17170603. 
  3. Tamai, et al. “Dietary Intake of Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Is Associated With Lower Blood Pressure in Japanese Preschool Children.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Nov. 2011, academic.oup.com/ajh/article/24/11/1215/2281951.  

How Can I Improve Circulation in My Legs and Feet?

How Can I Improve Circulation in My Legs and Feet

Poor circulation in the legs and feet is the mark of a condition called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) It’s a condition that has no known cure, but there are preventative measures that can be taken to allow the patient some control of the situation.

Places of Improvement

Preventative measures are plenty. However, in this case, it’s not just one or the other. To cover such methods, we need to first discuss the objects that require improvement. What needs improving? We’ve broken down these main issues down below: 

  • Arterial Inflammation: Arterial Inflammation can be caused by a diet that is high in sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, excessive alcohol, processed meats, vegetable and seed oils, etc. It’s a condition that is closely linked to atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the arteries.)  As such, it is important that arterial inflammation is kept as reduced as possible, to help improve blood circulation in the legs and feet.  
  • Blood Viscosity: Blood viscosity is a measurement of how “sticky” or “thick” one’s blood is. Thick or sticky blood does not flow easily in the arteries and veins. As such, it is important that one preemptively take measures to keep the blood thin — in order to allow it to flow naturally through the legs and feet. 
  • Arterial Function: Of course, the arteries themselves are of concern. In order to keep the blood circulation in your legs healthy, then the arteries should stay flexible and be able to dilate and contract as needed. 

How to Improve Circulation in Legs and Feet? 

With the places of improvement in mind, let us discuss a couple of preventative measures that can be taken to address the aforementioned issues.  

  • Healthy Diet: As a way of reducing blood inflammation, reducing blood viscosity, and supporting healthy arterial functioning, it is important that one keep a healthy diet. Studies have shown that the best diet for improving circulation in the legs and feet is a Mediterranean diet (filled with nuts, fish rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, olive oil, etc.)  
  • Exercise: Walking, and other low-impact exercises have also been said to help promote healthy blood circulation in the body. For example, in a study of elderly patients tasked to walk regularly for a 12-week period, it was concluded that the risk of cardiovascular problems was greatly reduced.  
  • Smoking Cessation: Chemicals in cigarette smoke (like Nicotine) have been studied to cause cellular damage that goes as far down as your legs and feet. In this case, said chemicals can cause the arteries to narrow and clot more easily. As such, if you have been diagnosed with poor circulation in your lower extremities, it is important that you stop smoking immediately.  

Conclusion — How Can I Improve Circulation in My Legs and Feet? 

Poor circulation in the legs and feet does not have a cure-all solution. However, if you are diagnosed early enough, there are ways for you to target whatever issues might have prompted your condition in the first place and take control of the situation.  

As such, if you are over the age of 50 (with a history of smoking or diabetes), it is vital that you get tested for an ABI. The sooner that you make improvements, the better off you will be.  



  1. He, L I, et al. “Effects of 12-Week Brisk Walking Training on Exercise Blood Pressure in Elderly Patients with Essential Hypertension: a Pilot Study.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29363988. 
  2. Ruiz-Canela, Miguel. “Mediterranean Diets and Peripheral Artery Disease.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 22 Jan. 2014, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1817779.  
  3. Timisjärvi, J, et al. “Effect of Smoking on the Central Circulation at Rest and during Exercise as Studied by Radiocardiography.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7465436

How Do You Test for Peripheral Artery Disease?

How Do You Test for Peripheral Artery Disease?

Testing for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) starts with a regular office visit. For that, the patient would have to be perfectly aware of their own health. That means, that they should be able to identify possible symptoms of the disease and report it to their primary care physician — someone who will know how to test for PAD.  

After preliminary reports, the patient will be put through a physical examination and tested for an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) score, which should determine the presence, or lack thereof, of PAD in the patient. Further testing might be necessary depending on certain factors.  

Office Visit 

Primarily, the diagnosis of PAD starts with a regular office visit. This visit will include an overview of the patient’s medical history. Then, the patient might be preemptively tested for PAD on the grounds of the following: 

  • Presence of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes in the patient’s medical history (or the patient’s family medical history); 
  • A personal account of common PAD symptoms (claudication) — pain or numbness in the legs and feet during exercise; 
  • History of smoking; 
  • And/or if the patient is over the age of 50 (with a history in diabetes or smoking) or just over the age of 60.  

Physical Examination 

Once the physician begins to suspect the presence of PAD. They will continue forward with a basic physical examination of the patient’s leg. This physical examination will look closely at the patient’s lower extremities — to further determine possible symptoms that the patient themselves might not have noticed.  

  • Examination of legs and feet: First, the physician will examine the patient’s legs and feet for the presence of any physical weaknesses. Which might include something as mild as hair loss and brittleness in the nails and skin or something as severe as ulcers.
  • Evaluation of pulse and blood flow: With a stethoscope, the physician is also likely to evaluate the flow of blood in the patient’s legs and feet to preemptively identify possibly clogged arteries.
  • Identification of wounds: The physician might also inquire about possible sores or wounds in the legs and feet in order to identify another symptom of PAD — wherein present sores are not able to heal.

Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) 

The most popular way of testing for PAD is through an Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) Test. For this, the patient is asked to rest on their back and will have their blood pressure on their upper arms and ankles measured. Such measurements are taken with a sensitive doppler probe — which broadcasts high-fidelity sounds of pulse waveforms in the arteries.  

Toe-Brachial Index Test might be necessary if the patient is displaying signs of abnormally high calcification in the arteries. ABI and TBIs are identical in practice, except for the fact that with a TBI blood pressure is read from the upper arms and big toes (rather than the upper arms and ankles.)  

Further Testing 

Further testing might be required if there are discrepancies with the diagnosis. For example, some patients might report having PAD symptoms but receive normal ABI results. Whilst others might be diagnosed with PAD but not fit the profile of an average PAD patient. In either case, a patient might be put through further testing. Such as:  

  • Ultrasound Scan: Ultrasound imaging that uses sound waves to build a picture of the arteries in the legs to determine the exact location of narrowed or blocked up arteries.
  • Stress Testing: A form of ABI testing that is conducted to identify the effects post-exercise stress on a patient.
  • Angiogram: The use of dye (contrast material) injected in the blood vessels and X-ray imaging, Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA), or Computerized Tomography Angiography (CTA) to trace the contrast material through the arteries.

Conclusion — How Do You Test for Peripheral Artery Disease? 

PAD is largely left undiagnosed and untreated, and whilst most symptoms are mild, there are occasions that have led to coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and even death in some patients (especially in patients with a history in diabetes and smoking.) As such, early diagnosis is very important.  



  1. “Archive of All Online Content.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.114.303517?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed. 
  2. Høyer, C, et al. “The Toe-Brachial Index in the Diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23688630. 
  3. Lin, J S, et al. “The Ankle Brachial Index for Peripheral Artery Disease Screening and Cardiovascular Disease Prediction in Asymptomatic Adults: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force [Internet].” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24156115

Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes

Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes

Peripheral Arterial Disease in people with Diabetes is a common complication that might lead to the exacerbation of certain risk factors. Unfortunately, PAD is left highly undiagnosed and untreated, despite the fact that the American Diabetes Association has estimated that about 1 in 3 people with diabetes has PAD as well.  

This outlook is dangerous. Especially when one notes the increased risk of heart attack and stroke, something that comes hand in hand with the clogged arteries that characterizes someone with PAD.  

Relationship Between PAD and Diabetes 

The most common cause for PAD is a condition called atherosclerosis. This condition is marked by blood vessels lined with fatty deposits that forces said arteries to narrow and results in the decreased flow of blood. Diabetes enters into the equation by increasing the chances of a person developing atherosclerosis, which thus leads to that person being more predisposed to developing PAD.  

Risk Factors 

People who are affected by PAD symptomatically might experience the following in various levels of severity and constancy: 

  • Pain or Numbness in the hips, legs, feet, calves, etc. (Claudication) 
  • Sores or Infections that do not heal along the legs and feet 
  • and the risk of developing gangrene, which could lead to amputation of the legs and feet (Critical Limb Ischemia) 

On the other hand, approximately half of the people with PAD experience it asymptomatically. That means that they won’t have to deal with any of the more common symptoms (or experience any symptoms at all), but it also means that they are at a higher risk for being left undiagnosed and untreated. 

As mentioned, this is a dangerous outlook, especially if the patient also has Diabetes. As the chances of the condition leading to a heart attack, stroke, or even death are increased exponentially.  


According to the NHS, there is no cure for PAD, only lifestyle changes and medication that slows the progression of the condition. A clinical review conducted in 2006 by a Dr. Graeme, breaks this down further by elucidating what lifestyle changes and medication might mean if the patient has diabetes as well.  

If Peripheral Arterial Disease exists along with Diabetes, lifestyle changes come in the form of smoking cessation and increased physical activity. Whilst medication might take the form of prescription drugs (antihypertensives, statins, antiplatelets) that help regulate cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.  

Of course, a big part of treating PAD in people with Diabetes is getting diagnosed. As mentioned, PAD exists both symptomatically and asymptomatically, so the patient might not necessarily experience any of the symptoms that come along with it. Making it vital that they get checked out as regularly as they can.  

Conclusion – Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes 

Peripheral Arterial Disease in people with Diabetes should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If you are over 50 years of age, with a history in diabetes (or relation to someone with diabetes) and a predilection for smoking, then you might want to consider getting ABI tested to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.  



  1. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-arterial-disease-pad/treatment/. 
  2. Hankey, Graeme J. “Medical Treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 1 Feb. 2006, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/202271. 
  3. “Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).” American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/heart-disease/peripheral-arterial-disease.html. 

What is the Main Cause of Peripheral Artery Disease?

What is the Main Cause of Peripheral Artery Disease

The most common cause of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is the build-up of plaque deposits that results in a lack of blood flow in the arteries around one’s lower extremities. This condition is called atherosclerosis and it appears symptomatically as pain and cramping in the legs and feet.  


Damage to the inner layers of the arteries is what makes atherosclerosis occur. This damage causes arteries to narrow and harden by accumulating plaque deposits (which are filled with fat, cholesterol, and calcium.) 

These blockages make it more difficult for blood to flow to your legs and feet which might symptomatically appear along with the following issues: 

  • Pain and numbness in the hips, legs, feet, calves, etc. 
  • Sores and infections that refuse to go away 
  • Discoloration and other physical changes in the legs and feet 

In extreme forms, atherosclerosis can result in an infection of the legs and feet called Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI.) Which could, ultimately, lead to the loss of one of your limbs. Alternatively, PAD also exists asymptomatically. Which means, that the blockages do not result in any pain or obvious symptoms.  

Causes of Atherosclerosis 

Atherosclerosis is the main cause of Peripheral Artery Disease, but the cause of atherosclerosis is still unclear. There are studies that have introduced links to this condition and certain factors, but it remains a complex condition that is thought to progress as one ages.  

  • Smoking Tobacco: One of the factors said to have caused atherosclerosis is the act of smoking tobacco. Smoking takes on a more active form in this process. It’s been said to directly damage the inner layers of arteries. The body then attempts to heal itself in the form of plaque build-up. Which leads to further damage in the form of clots and artery obstruction.  According to the NIH, one quick and effective way of preventing PAD is to simply stop smoking altogether.  
  • Sedentary Lifestyles: Another factor that might result in PAD is a lack of activity. Similar to quitting smoking, there are studies that conclude that increasing physical activity, has been said to prevent the progression of PAD.  
  • Diabetes & High levels of Cholesterol or Blood Pressure: Diabetes has also been linked to increasing the risk and the severity of PAD. This link is a little bit different from the previous. In that, if left untreated or unmonitored, high levels of glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure might result in increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.  
  • Inflammation: A lesser known cause of plaque build-up in the arteries is blood vessel inflammation. This could be due to a previous injury or exposure to radiation. Anything that might have unnaturally affected the workings of your legs and feet. 

Conclusion: What is the Main Cause of Peripheral Artery Disease? 

In short and simple terms, the main cause of Peripheral Artery Disease is the build-up inside of arteries that prevent the flow of blood in the legs and feet. This condition, called atherosclerosis, blocks up the body in a way that could result in pain and unnatural physical changes to the lower half of your body.  

As for atherosclerosis itself, the causes are less unclear. It’s a condition that progresses as we age, which makes older people (around 50 or 70 years old) more likely to experience it. What is known about this condition, is the fact that it can be prevented from occurring or progressing by actively maintaining a healthy lifestyle  



  1. Lu, J T, and M A Creager. “The Relationship of Cigarette Smoking to Peripheral Arterial Disease.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15580157. 
  2. “Smoking and Your Heart.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/smoking-and-your-heart. 

Can PAD be Cured?

Can PAD be Cured

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) primarily affects the circulation of blood in one’s lower extremities, which includes the hips, legs, feet, etc. Symptoms come in the form of pain and numbness agitated by exercise.  

In more severe cases, PAD can also cause infected sores that might require gangrene or amputation if left untreated. Said effects might also extend to fatal issues in the patient’s heart or brain especially when the patient is known to either be diabetic or a regular tobacco smoker.  

There is no known cure for PAD. However, there are steps that one can take to help prevent, diagnose, and treat PAD.  


The first step is to prevent PAD from either occurring or from progressing in the body. According to the NHS, the primary objective of someone with PAD is to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Which means that you should: 

  • Quit Smoking 
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine 
  • Find ways of managing health issues that could have resulted in higher cholesterol, blood pressure, or glucose levels 

Acting preventively will help keep your blood vessels healthy and make it unlikely for you to develop problems that might result in more severe symptoms.  


The second step is to find out whether you have PAD. PAD appears both symptomatically and asymptomatically, so you might not experience the same symptoms that another patient does as quickly or as severely (or even experience symptoms at all.)  

Remaining undiagnosed can lead to severe cardiovascular issues, especially if you are diabetic or if you smoke regularly. 

  • Regular physical examinations and analysis of your medical history will help in diagnosing your risk of being afflicted with PAD 
  • Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) testing compares the blood pressure in your ankle to the blood pressure in your arm to unearth possible blockages in your arms and legs 

It is important to go through check-ups and testing whenever possible, even if you have not displayed any of the symptoms, to be able to actively treat possible issues that might worsen your condition. 


Once you are diagnosed with PAD, measures can be taken to help ease your condition. Treatment will depend on how PAD affects you specifically and can come in a variety of forms.  

  • Prescription Medication: If you are diabetic, then you will likely be prescribed drugs such as statins, antihypertensives, and antiplatelets. These prescription medications can help lower your cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and blood sugar levels.  
  • Surgical Procedures: In cases severe enough to warrant it, you might have to undergo revascularization — a form of surgery that manually restores the flow of blood in your legs.  The two main types of revascularization include angioplasty (expanding blocked arteries) and artery bypass grafts (transporting blood vessels from another part of your body to bypass the blockages.)  
  • Clot Removal: In order to prevent the risk of heart attacks or strokes, medication is usually given to help prevent clots. However, if a clot does form and obstruct the flow of blood, it can be removed by direct injection with a catheter.  

Can PAD be Cured? 

In conclusion, Peripheral Arterial Disease cannot be cured. However, as is outlined above, there are steps that one can take in order to prevent, diagnose, and treat its underlying causes.  

Prevention is the best way of making sure that you remain unaffected, a proper diagnosis will help determine your risk levels, and participating in procedures that help treat factors that might progress your PAD will make sure that you are in control of the situation. 



  1. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-arterial-disease-pad/treatment/. 
  2. Lu, J T, and M A Creager. “The Relationship of Cigarette Smoking to Peripheral Arterial Disease.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15580157. 
  3. “Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes.” Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, 1 Dec. 2003, care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3333.