Peripheral Vascular Disease Treatment

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused by atherosclerosis. This occurs when fatty material (plaque) builds up on the inside of your arteries. This causes the opening of the artery to become narrower. The walls of the arteries also become stiffer and cannot dilate to allow greater blood flow when needed. This means when muscles of your legs need more blood flow and oxygen due to increased work load, such as walking or with exercise, they do not get the supply they need. Eventually, if enough plaque builds up, there may not be enough blood flow and oxygen to your legs even at rest.

When your legs do not get enough blood flow, you may feel burning, cramping or weakness in your feet, lower legs or thighs. Usually, these symptoms occur with exercise and are relieved with rest. As the disease progresses, you may start to feel these symptoms at rest, especially when lying down.

Peripheral artery disease is a common disorder that usually affects men over age 50. People are at higher risk if they have a history of:

  • Abnormal cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease (coronary artery disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease involving dialysis
  • Smoking
  • Stroke

There are several tests to evaluate PAD. You may initially have an ABI test which is a non-invasive test that measures and compares the blood pressures in your arms and legs. Other tests your physician may order include a Peripheral Artery Ultrasound, Peripheral Angiography, or a special CT of the arteries in your legs. You and your physician will discuss your symptoms and together will develop a plan for testing and, if needed, appropriate treatment which will be suited to your specific needs.