Distinguishing Features of Peripheral Artery Disease and Its Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that “about 6.5 million adults age 40 and older in the United States have peripheral arterial disease PAD.” PAD is a condition that causes the arteries that carry blood to various parts of the body to become constricted. According to the American Heart Association, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can result in a stroke, changes in the color of the skin, and a “complete loss of circulation to the legs and feet,” which can lead to gangrene and the amputation of a limb if the condition is not treated. Having awareness of the symptoms can save your life, and Eat This, Not That! Health consulted with medical professionals who provided seven key takeaways regarding the illness. Continue reading, and make sure you don’t miss any of these sure signs that you’ve already had COVID to protect not only your health but also the health of others.

Eric Stahl, MD According to information provided by a non-invasive cardiologist working at Staten Island University Hospital, “PAD is frequently misdiagnosed since the symptoms can be hard to pinpoint. It is essential to maintain consistent examination and follow-up with a physician at regular intervals. An ankle-brachial index (ABI) is often the first step in the diagnostic process. This index compares blood pressure readings taken in the lower legs to those taken in the arms. If the results are abnormal, another testing might be required to more precisely quantify the degree of constriction.”

middle-aged man chatting with doctor


Dr. Ian Del Conde-Pozzi, cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist at Baptist Health’s Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute says, “Peripheral arterial disease is very common all over the world, particularly in older people, people who have a family history of diabetes, or people who have smoked cigarettes in the past. A useful method to assist in the prevention of PAD is to lead a healthy lifestyle, such as the easy 7 recommended by the American Heart Association.”

bad heartbeat

According to Del Conde Pozzi’s explanation, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is brought on by blockages in the arteries that provide blood to the legs. These obstructions, which are caused by cholesterol deposits, are quite comparable to the deposits that are responsible for heart attacks. Therefore, the prevention of heart attacks and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the same. Atherosclerosis, often known as the development of plaque in the arteries, is the primary cause of the peripheral arterial disease (PAD), according to Dr. Todd Villines, a world-renowned clinical cardiologist and Chief Medical Officer of Elucid. According to the Cardiovascular Coalition, “this takes place when arterial inflammation, cholesterol, calcium, and scar tissue build-up, causing plaque that clogs the arteries and slows down blood flow to the legs.” [Citation needed] Patients are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease because their arteries become less flexible and become more constricted the more plaque that accumulates on the interior walls of the blood vessels that deliver blood from the heart to the legs and arms.

Woman checking blood sugar level while sitting on bench

Dr. Stahl explains, “The frequency of PAD is found to rise with increasing age. Smoking cigarettes, having diabetes, having high blood pressure, and having high cholesterol are some of the additional risk factors that lead to PAD. When compared to people who have never smoked, smokers have a threefold increased risk of developing PAD. When compared to people who do not have diabetes, individuals who do have diabetes have a nearly twofold increased risk of having PAD.”


Dr. Stahl adds, “The lower limbs are the areas of the body that are most frequently affected by PAD. Patients diagnosed with PAD frequently complain of leg symptoms such as weariness, soreness, cramps, or discomfort, particularly while they are on their feet or engaging in physical activity.”

According to Del Conde Pozzi, “Leg symptoms are typically the first ones to appear in patients with severe PAD. When walking causes symptoms in the legs of the majority of individuals with substantial PAD, such as exhaustion or pain in the legs. Leg pain, in and of itself, is not very prevalent. If you get problems in your legs as you walk, you should get examined for peripheral artery disease (PAD).”

older woman with leg pain
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Del Conde Pozzi shares, “A careful and straightforward physical exam is typically sufficient to rule out the presence of significant PAD. It is quite improbable that you have substantial PAD if you have vigorous pulses in both of your ankles. You must be aware of this information to ensure that your doctor feels for your pulses.”

doctor checking heart with stethoscope

Del Conde Pozzi states, “Over the previous two decades, there has been a substantial advancement in the treatment of PAD. Patients can now be treated using catheter-based procedures that are minimally invasive and achieve outstanding results. These treatments are an excellent complement to the drugs that prevent the progression of PAD.”

Dr. Stahl adds, “Quitting smoking and taking control of diabetes are two of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing PAD or treat it if you already have it. In addition, both the advancement of atherosclerosis and the onset of PAD can be slowed down by adopting a diet that is good for the heart, such as the cuisine of the Mediterranean region, and engaging in frequent physical activity. Finally, if making changes to one’s lifestyle isn’t enough, one can choose from a variety of medications that, in addition to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, also work to prevent platelet aggregation.”

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Reporting and writing about topics such as health, fitness, entertainment, and travel have been Heather Newgen’s career for the past two decades. At the moment, Heather contributes her writing skills to several different magazines. Learn further about Heather here.


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