Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

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 country have this disease.

PAD is caused by a slow buildup of plaque in the arteries. Eventually, the deposits of fat accumulate enough to severely impact blood flow. 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:

  • 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.

What Causes 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:

  • 1
    Arm pain when doing activities like typing, writing or other manual movements
  • 2
    Sores on the legs, feet or toes that are slow to heal
  • 3
    Leg numbness, tingling or weakness
  • 4
    Coldness in the lower extremities
  • 5
    Change of skin color in arms or legs
  • 6
    Hair loss or slower hair growth
  • 7
    Shiny skin on the legs or arms
  • 8
    Faint pulse in your legs or feet
  • 9
    Erectile dysfunction
  • 10
    Painful cramping in the hips, thighs, or calves when walking

Serious Complications

You should never leave any of these conditions unchecked. If left untreated, PAD significantly increased 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 Is PAD Diagnosed?

There are a few different ways our physicians can diagnose this condition. In most cases, multiple tests will be performed to add certainty to the diagnosis. The five most common tests we run are physical exams, ankle-brachial indexes, ultrasounds, angiographies and blood tests.

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.

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 relatively similar. But 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 as well.


This unique imaging technique can provide a look inside the artery without the need for 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 triglycerides 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.

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.


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

Thrombolytic surgery can also be performed if a blood clot is responsible for the blockage. Your physician will inject a drug into the artery to dissolve the clot and restore the artery’s functionality.

Supervised Home Remedies

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.

This can include changes to a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and nutrition or avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol. You can work with our medical professionals to find a lifestyle plan that is appropriate for your needs.

How Do We Treat PAD?

How Can I Prevent PAD?

The best way to prevent arterial buildup is to avoid smoking and follow an active and healthy lifestyle. You should be getting a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week to help keep your vascular system in good shape. Avoiding greasy, fatty and unhealthy food will decrease the chances of deposits sticking to your arteries.

If you are someone struggling with illnesses like diabetes or other preexisting conditions, you should be serious about managing those as much as possible through healthy lifestyle choices. Keep your blood sugar and pressure in ideal parameters and taking steps to improve these conditions can work wonders toward preventing heart and artery disease.

Why Choose VIP?

Why Choose VIP?

VIP is a team of five highly skilled medical professionals extensively trained in artery and vein disease. We have a reputation for taking the most severe cases that need the most specialized attention and treatment in the Phoenix area. We are proud to say that we have been highly successful in treating even the most complicated cases.

Benefits of IR Peripheral Arterial Disease Treatment

There are a few different ways our physicians can diagnose this condition. In most cases, multiple tests will be performed to add certainty to the diagnosis. The five most common tests we run are physical exams, ankle-brachial indexes, ultrasounds, angiographies and blood tests.


Interventional radiologists rely on medical imaging to detect narrowing and blockages, which makes these treatments highly precise.


Compared to open surgery, IR procedures to treat PAD are less risky and with fewer complications.


These procedures are done on an outpatient basis, which makes them convenient.


IR procedures are quick and the recovery time for them is sooner than with open surgery.

Treat PAD at VIP in Scottsdale, AZ

If you are ready to learn more about how our team can help treat your PAD and relief pain, discomfort and other symptoms associated with the disease, then give our office in Phoenix a call at (480) 435-9100. If you would rather get a call back at a more convenient time, then fill out our online contact form, and we will get back to you at your earliest convenience.

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