Peripheral Artery Disease 101: Everything You Need to Know I VIP Interventional


Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) - a condition affecting millions of people globally - represents a significant and increasing public health concern. This disease arises when the arteries in one's limbs narrow, causing restricted blood flow, leading to poor circulation and potentially severe health implications. 

Predominant risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and aging can significantly amplify the probability of developing PAD. However, it's crucial to remember that PAD can affect anyone, irrespective of their health profile. 

In this blog post, we dive deeper into the world of PAD, exploring its causes, symptoms, and current treatment options so that you can make informed decisions about your health. 

What is Peripheral Artery Disease? 

Peripheral Artery Disease, commonly abbreviated as PAD, is a circulatory problem that can cause mild, moderate, and even severe leg pain. This condition is widespread; the CDC estimates that about 6.5 million people in the United States have this disease.

PAD is caused by a slow buildup of plaque in the arteries; eventually, fat deposits accumulate enough to impact blood flow severely. The pain that is associated with this artery disease is caused by the impacted area not receiving enough oxygen.

What Causes PAD?

PAD can occur in anyone since we are all prone to arterial buildup, but it is especially common if you have any of the following preexisting conditions or risk factors:

  • History of smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Over the age of 50
  • Family history of PAD
  • High levels of homocysteine

Even if you don’t have any of these conditions, it is still possible to develop PAD, so you should always see a physician right away if you begin to experience leg pain.

How is PAD Diagnosed? 

In most cases, PAD can be diagnosed with a physical exam, ultrasound, and/or blood tests. We may also recommend advanced diagnostic measures, such as an Ankle-Brackial Index or Angiography. 

Physical Exam

Many of the common symptoms can be checked during a standard physical. A faint pulse, skin discoloration or coldness, and the development of sores are easy to identify. We can even identify the sound of a strained artery through a stethoscope. If we discover signs of PAD, we will run secondary tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as an ankle-brachial index. 

Ankle-Brachial Index

This test compares the blood pressure of your ankles to the blood pressure of your arms. In a healthy body, the values should be similar. However, in a patient who has PAD, an arm or leg may exhibit lower blood pressure because of a faulty artery. In addition to diagnosis, this test can help discover the severity of the condition.


This unique imaging technique can provide a look inside the artery without an invasive procedure. Blood flow and condition severity can all be evaluated through this type of testing.


During this test, a specialized dye is injected into your blood vessels, allowing your physician to get a clear view of your blood flow patterns. A catheter angiography, which inserts a small hollow tube into your artery through the groin, can also be performed.

While catheter angiography is an invasive procedure, it also allows your physician to treat an impacted artery by widening it or administering medication to improve blood flow.

Blood Tests

Cholesterol and triglyceride levels are solid indicators of heart and artery disease. When these factors are elevated, it is much more likely that arterial buildup is occurring. It can also check blood sugar levels to discover diabetes, which also increases the chances of developing PAD.

What Are the Symptoms of PAD? 

The most universal symptom is pain in the leg or arm where blood flow has been impacted, but there are many other indicators that you could be developing this condition, such as:

  • Arm pain when doing activities like typing, writing, or other manual movements
  • Sores on the legs, feet, or toes that are slow to heal
  • Leg numbness, tingling or weakness
  • Coldness in the lower extremities
  • Change of skin color in arms or legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth
  • Shiny skin on the legs or arms
  • Faint pulse in your legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Painful cramping in the hips, thighs, or calves when walking

You should never leave any of these conditions unchecked. If left untreated, PAD significantly increases the risk of developing serious complications like heart attacks, strokes, and critical limb ischemia. Critical limb ischemia begins with open sores that cannot heal but can quickly progress to levels of infection and tissue death that require amputation.

How Do We Treat PAD?

There are three categories of treatment that are all viable methods of improving and controlling PAD: medications, procedures, and supervised home remedies.


Many different preexisting conditions can lead to PAD. Medications to control cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood clots are all common treatments. By managing these factors, it is possible to improve the pain and functionality of the problematic arteries.

If necessary, medication can also be provided to relieve the symptoms of the disease. This helps patients manage the pain while a more permanent solution is underway.

PAD Treatment Procedures

While the angioplasty we previously discussed is an option, in severe cases, a surgeon may perform bypass surgery. This involves creating a path around the blocked artery, usually with a synthetic blood vessel.

Thrombolytic surgery can also be performed for peripheral vascular disease if a blood clot is responsible for the blockage. In this procedure, your physician will inject a drug into the artery to dissolve the clot and restore the artery’s functionality.

Supervised Home Remedies For Treating PAD

You should always have these conditions checked by a physician since PAD can lead to serious complications and even death. Once thoroughly examined by a physician, you may be given some opportunities to make some changes at home to improve your condition, such as:

  • Increasing activity
  • Eating a healthy diet and nutrition
  • Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol

You can work with our medical professionals to find a lifestyle plan that is appropriate for your needs.

Benefits of Choosing VIP for Treating Peripheral Artery Disease

At Vascular and Interventional Partners, we rely on precise medical imaging to detect narrowing and blockages, making treatments highly accurate. Compared to open surgery, IR procedures for PAD treatment are safer with fewer complications. These outpatient procedures are convenient and have faster recovery times than open surgery.

If you or someone you love is suffering from Peripheral Artery Disease, schedule a consultation today to see how VIP can help.

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