Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition of the blood vessels that leads to narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to your limbs, which can injure nerves and other tissues.

Peripheral artery disease is caused by Arteriosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries." This problem occurs when plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries. The plaque buildup causes the arteries to become narrower, and the walls of the arteries also become stiffer and cannot widen to allow greater blood flow.

As a result, when the muscles of your legs – where Peripheral artery disease is most common – are working harder, they cannot get enough blood and oxygen. Eventually, this could happen even when the muscles are resting. The classic symptoms are pain, achiness, fatigue, burning or discomfort in the muscles of your feet, calves or thighs.

You are at higher risk if you have a history of:

  • Abnormal cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease (coronary artery disease)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Kidney disease involving hemodialysis
  • Smoking
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular disease)

Severe peripheral artery disease can lead to:

  • Impotence
  • Pain and cramps at night
  • Skin that looks dark and blue
  • Sores that do not heal

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