Peripheral Arterial Disease — Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), sometimes called as peripheral vascular disease, is caused by atheroma (fatty deposits) in the walls of the arteries, thereby limiting blood flow to the muscles and other tissues.

Patients with PAD may experience symptoms, but the disease can also be asymptomatic. The commonest symptom is intermittent claudication — leg pain and weakness after a walk, which lessens with rest.

Patients diagnosed as having PAD (also those who are asymptomatic) have an increased risk of mortality, stroke and myocardial infarction (heart attack). This medical condition can lead to gangrene and amputation of limbs if left untreated.

Patients with claudication have a significantly reduced quality of life due to limited mobility.


The main cause of formation of atheroma in the limbs is unknown in most of the cases. But there are some conditions and lifestyle habits that increase the chances of developing PAD like:

  • Age over 50
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • History of vascular disease, stroke or heart attack

Common Symptoms

In its early states, common symptoms could include cramping, heaviness, pain and discomfort in the lower extremities. The pain goes away as the patient rests — this condition is called intermittent claudication.


PAD is diagnosed by examining the patient’s medical history and current condition. Physicians at vascular disease center in California conduct a simple test known as ABI (Ankle Brachial Index). The patient also needs to get some other tests done such as:

  • Doppler and Duplex Ultrasound Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)
  • Regular (Catheter-Based) Angiogram
  • CT Angiogram


People with PAD are advised to make some lifestyle changes like:

  • Quit smoking
  • Curbing diabetes
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Being active (an exercise program is followed)
  • Eating food low in saturated and trans-farts

Drug treatment could encompass

  • Antiplatelet agents to prevent blood clots
  • High blood pressure medicine
  • Cholesterol-lowering medicine (statins)

There are some cases that require more than just lifestyle changes and medication. In such cases, angioplasty or bypass surgery is considered.


Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure done to widen the narrowed or blocked arteries, thereby ensuring smooth blood flow. During the procedure, a catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is inserted through a small incision to the narrowed artery segment. Then, the balloon is inflated to push the plaque built-up. Often a stent (a wire mesh tube) is placed in the artery with a catheter. The stent expands to open the blockage. It is kept there to keep the affected artery open.

Consult a physician specialized in PAD non-surgical treatment in Illinois for complete informvascular disease centeration about Angioplasty procedure.

Bypass surgery

During bypass surgery, a vein from another part of the body or a synthetic blood vessel is placed above and below the affected artery in order to reroute the blood flow.

Schedule an appointment with a PAD specialist if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.