Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is disease of any blood vessel that is not part of the heart or brain. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused by deposits of fatty material called atheroma in arteries of the legs. Since arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the cells of the body, a reduction in blood flow can cause bodily organs to fail.
This is a serious condition that requires care from your doctor. The sooner PAD is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.
PAD is usually caused by a gradual buildup of plaque called atherosclerosis that happens within the arteries. Other causes include blood clots or embolisms, congenital heart disease, and inflammation of the blood vessels called vasculitis.
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PAD can be hereditary. You also may get PAD if you are overweight or obese , or have high blood pressure , diabetes , or high cholesterol . Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating a high-fat diet, and not getting enough exercise lead to PAD.
Factors that increase your chance of developing PAD include:
Symptoms of PAD are related to the organ or part of the body deprived of blood. This includes:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
During the exam, your doctor may:
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Images may need to be taken of your internal bodily structures. This can be done with:
Your heart activity may need to be tested. This can be done with electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) .
Early treatment can slow or stop the disease. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Your doctor may prescribe:
Procedures may include:
Surgery to open up narrowed arteries is performed in severe cases.
If you are diagnosed with PAD, follow your doctor's instructions .
American Academy of Family Physicians
Vascular Disease Foundation
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
About peripheral artery disease (PAD). American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/About-Peripheral-Artery-Disease-PAD_UCM_301301_Article.jsp . Updated September 13, 2012. Accessed May 9, 2013.
American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association 2005 Practice Guidelines for the management of patients with peripheral arterial disease. Circulation . 2006;113:e463-654.
Gey DC, Lesho EP, Manngold J. Management of Peripheral Arterial Disease. Am Fam Physician . 2004;69:525-532.
Lumsden AB, Rice TW. Medical management of peripheral arterial disease: a therapeutic algorithm. J Endovasc Ther . 2006;13(suppl 2)II19-29.
Mahmud E, Cavendish JJ, Salami A. Current treatment of peripheral arterial disease: role of percutaneous interventional therapies. J Am Coll Cardiol . 2007;50:473-490.
Peripheral arterial disease. Am Fam Physician . 2004 Feb 1;69(3):533. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0201/p533.html . Accessed May 9, 2013.
Peripheral arterial disease and claudication. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/peripheral-arterial-disease-and-claudication.html . Updated January 2011. Accessed May 9, 2013.
Regensteiner JG, Stewart KJ. Established and evolving medical therapies for claudication in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Nat Clin Pract Cardiovasc Med . 2006;3: 604-610.
What is peripheral artery disease (PAD)? Vascular Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.vdf.org/diseaseinfo/pad/ . Updated May 11, 2012. Accessed May 9, 2013.
11/18/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com : Rooke TW, Hirsch AT, Misra S, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA focused update of the guideline for the management of patients with peripheral artery disease (updating the 2005 guideline): a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation . 2011;124(18):2020-2045.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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