Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the obstruction or narrowing of the aorta & major arteries that causes an interruption of blood flow to the brain and extremities, most commonly the legs and feet. When narrowing occurs in the heart, it is called coronary artery disease, while, in the brain, it is called cerebrovascular disease. Untreated PAD can result in critical limb ischemia (CLI) and lead to tissue damage and/or loss of limb.
10 evidence-based facts about PAD
Facts about PAD taken from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- The risk of PAD increases substantially with age
- >50% of PAD patients are asymptomatic
- The presence of PAD is associated with a 2-fold increase in the prevalence of heart failure
- 20–30% of individuals with PAD have diabetes mellitus
- Diabetic patients have 2–4 times the risk of developing PAD, CAD, and ischemic stroke
- Smokers have 2.5 times the risk of developing PAD
- Atherosclerosis accounts for more than 90% of cases of PAD
- Compared to whites, the likelihood of PAD is 55% lower among Chinese and 50% greater among African Americans
- The femoral and popliteal arteries are affected in 80–90% of symptomatic PAD patients
- The prevalence of amputation in PAD patients is 3–4%
What are the symptoms of PAD?
PAD may be acute or chronic. An acute occlusion requires immediate treatment to provide blood flow to the extremity & prevent limb loss. Chronic PAD may very in severity from mild to severe with major.
Signs and symptoms may include:
- Intermittent pain with exercise (chronic PAD)
- Abnormal sensation
- Pain at rest
- Color changes of fingers, toes, feet, etc…
- Coolness to the touch of the limb
- Hardness of the limb
- Diminished or absent pulses
- Hairloss, thick nails
- Necrotic ulcers
Primary risk factors of PAD:
Risk factors include smoking, aging, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia, diabetes and a family history of vascular disorders: myocardial infarction (heart attack) and/or stroke. Men suffer from PAD more often and at younger ages than women.