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Is Peripheral Artery Disease Hereditary?

Is Peripheral Artery Disease Hereditary?

Apr 12, 2024 | Blog

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), also known as peripheral arterial occlusive disease, is a common circulatory problem caused by atherosclerosis. It happens when there are narrowed arteries that reduce blood flow to the limbs. 

Prevalence and risk factors of PAD include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of vascular diseases, etc. Knowing and recognizing these factors helps with early intervention and prevention strategies.

For those worried about peripheral arterial disease or in need of more information on managing its risk factors, we recommend that they consult with a PAD specialist to get personalized advice and treatment options. At CACVI, we have experts on PAD and vascular conditions who can assess your condition and give you the best solution.

With over 30 years of practicing experience, you can be sure that you’d be in good hands. Reach out to us now to schedule a free consultation with our specialists.

Is PAD hereditary? There is no yes or no answer to this question. While having a family history of PAD does not mean you will develop the disease, it leaves you at a higher risk. As such, your family history has a role to play.

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease is a cardiovascular disease that happens when there is a narrowing of peripheral arteries in the legs. This leads to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the limbs. Some symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) can include leg pain when walking, numbness, and changes in the color of the legs. 

While PAD affects the legs as it is a condition where the legs do not get enough blood flow to keep up with demand, it also goes beyond the limbs as it is an indicator of systemic disease that can lead to heart attack and stroke

Individuals with high blood pressure and obesity are more at risk when it comes to peripheral artery disease. Additionally, a family history of PAD, coronary artery disease, or other vascular diseases can increase an individual’s susceptibility to peripheral artery disease.

Common treatments for PAD aim to manage symptoms and halt the progression of the disease. These can include lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking and exercising regularly, medications to improve blood flow and reduce symptoms, and in some cases, surgical interventions. At CACVI, we offer various peripheral procedures in LA that can help manage peripheral artery occlusive disease. Some of our procedures include angioplasty, stenting, and atherectomy.

The Role of Genetics in Peripheral Artery Disease

The Role of Genetics in Peripheral Artery Disease

From studies and research, we see several genes and structural genetic variants linked to an increased risk of PAD. Although genetic susceptibility variants differ, such genetic factors can influence the development of PAD directly by affecting the arteries and blood flow, or indirectly through pathways that contribute to cardiovascular disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been instrumental in identifying such genetic variants. 

It is important to note that the exact genetic determinants and their mechanisms of action can be complex to understand. However, the identification of such genetic markers is a significant step forward in understanding the hereditary aspects of PAD. 

Studies on familial patterns of PAD have shown that individuals with a family history of PAD are at an increased risk of developing PAD themselves. This suggests that genetic predispositions play a role in the heredity of PAD. By knowing these familial patterns, specialists can easily identify individuals at risk and come up with strategies for these patients.

Furthermore, there is an interplay between genetics and environmental factors when it comes to peripheral arterial disease. Environmental and lifestyle factors like smoking and high blood pressure play a role in the actual manifestation of the disease. Thus, even individuals with a genetic predisposition can mitigate the condition with lifestyle modifications. 

Is Peripheral Artery Disease Hereditary?

Is Peripheral Artery Disease Hereditary?

Lately, more people are researching how genetics affects PAD. For example, certain genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have pinpointed genes related to lipid metabolism, inflammation, and endothelial function as being linked to an increased risk of PAD. Furthermore, many case studies have shown that families with a history of PAD often show a higher prevalence of the condition among siblings and offspring compared to the general population. 

There is no exact percentage yet attributed to PAD cases caused by genetic factors. However, some studies suggest that genetics could account for a significant proportion of the risk. Experts in cardiovascular disease and genetics also generally agree that PAD has a notable hereditary component.

Can You Develop PAD?

The development of peripheral arterial disease happens as a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. Conventional risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol can also lead to the development of PAD. As such, yes, you can develop Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

Studies like the Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and other genetic research efforts are ongoing to identify genetic susceptibility variants and novel disease susceptibility genes that may influence the risk of PAD. These studies aim to uncover the complex disease genetics underlying PAD, including specific disease susceptibility variants and rare genetic variants that may differ from conventional risk factors.

The identification of these genetic factors, along with an understanding of how they modify gene expression and interact with environmental risk factors, is crucial for advancing our knowledge of PAD. It may lead to the development of targeted therapies and interventions based on the genetic determinants of the disease. For instance, the ankle-brachial index is a diagnostic tool used in the assessment of PAD that may also reflect genetic influences on disease progression.

Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease

Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease

The risk factors for peripheral artery disease are diverse as they vary based on factors like lifestyle choices, health conditions, and genetic elements. For example, inactivity is one risk factor that leads to the development of PAD. Thus, individuals who live a sedentary lifestyle are more at risk.

Smoking is another risk factor highly associated with peripheral artery disease. It contributes to the constriction and damage of the arteries. Thus, narrowing the artery walls. An additional risk factor for peripheral artery disease would be living a sedentary lifestyle. Typically, lack of physical activity is linked to poor cardiovascular health. Therefore, engaging in regular exercise helps improve blood flow, manage symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications.  

Health conditions like diabetes also damage blood vessels and increase the risk for individuals to be susceptible to PAD. In addition, elevated blood pressure puts additional stress on the arteries and narrows or blocks the arteries.

By understanding and managing the risk factors associated with peripheral arterial disease, you can prevent it from the onset.

Preventing PAD in Individuals with a Family History

Preventing PAD in Individuals with a Family History

For individuals with a family history of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), knowing and understanding the risk factors of this disease helps with taking proactive steps to combat it. First on the list would be making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking. It is the most effective measure to reduce the risk of developing peripheral arterial disease. 

Furthermore, it is helpful to engage in regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet. These can help reduce blood pressure and prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. You can take it a step further by maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood sugar. 

Most importantly, you should always go for regular check-ups to monitor your cardiovascular health. These check-ups can include physical examinations, blood tests to check for high cholesterol and diabetes, and specific tests for PAD, such as the Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) test. Remember, early detection allows for the timely implementation of lifestyle changes and interventions. 

Genetic counseling and testing may also offer valuable insights into your risk of developing the condition if your family has a history of peripheral artery disease. Genetic counselors can provide information on how genetic variants and other risk factors contribute to PAD. Genetic testing coupled with counseling can guide individuals in understanding their risk and taking targeted actions to mitigate it.

Most Common PAD Treatments

Most Common PAD Treatments

Aside from lifestyle modifications, there are also surgical treatment options for PAD. One such treatment is angioplasty and stent placement. It is a minimally invasive treatment method that involves inserting a balloon-tipped catheter into the narrowed artery to open the blockage. 

Another procedure is an atherectomy which removes plaque from the arteries. It uses a catheter with a sharp blade on the end to cut away plaque from the blood vessel wall.

For severe PAD, bypass surgery can create a detour around the blocked or narrowed artery. It is done using a graft from another part of the body or a synthetic tube. This is considered a more invasive option.

For patients with critical limb ischemia, specialists may recommend critical limb ischemia treatment to restore blood flow and prevent amputation. Another common PAD treatment option would be endovenous ablation. Although primarily for varicose veins, it alleviates symptoms in PAD patients who also suffer from venous insufficiency. 

Peripheral Vascular Disease Evaluation in Los Angeles

There is a high interplay between genetics and peripheral artery disease. Although genes are not necessarily a sure cause of peripheral artery disease, individuals from families with a history of PAD are at risk of developing PAD. We strongly recommend that individuals who are at risk seek professional advice and consider preventive measures.

Consulting with a healthcare provider can lead to early intervention and significantly reduce the risk of developing PAD. With over 15,000 successful vascular and cardiac procedures under their belt, CACVI has one of the best Centers for Advanced Cardiac and Vascular Interventions in LA. We offer comprehensive services for peripheral vascular disease evaluation and provide critical resources for those seeking to understand their vascular health better and take proactive steps against PAD. 

Contact us today for a free consultation!


If you were told you need an amputation, get a second opinion! We are board certified consultants in endovascular interventions committed to improving the quality of your life and the lives of those you love!

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