Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

You may know all about how plaque buildup in the blood vessels around your heart and brain increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. But have you given any thought to how plaque can affect the arteries that supply blood to the rest of your body? Known as your peripheral arteries, these blood vessels are also at risk of plaque buildup, which is a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD).

It’s estimated that as many as 18 million Americans have PAD, which, if left untreated, can affect blood flow to your extremities and increase your risk of limb amputation. At Prime Heart & Vascular, renowned cardiologist Rishin Shah, MD, specializes in the diagnosis and management of PAD, and we want you to know more about this condition.

What is PAD?

Peripheral artery disease is a circulatory problem in which blood flow is reduced in your limbs due to plaque buildup in your arteries. While any peripheral artery can be affected, PAD is most often seen in the legs. When blood isn’t able to push through the narrow passageways, your legs may not get the oxygen and nutrients needed, which may affect the health and survival of the tissue.

Blockage in the peripheral arteries also usually means you have blockage in the arteries that supply blood to your heart and brain, which can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Know your risk

If you’ve ever thrown grease down the drain of your kitchen sink, then you may have an idea of what happens to your arteries to cause them to narrow. Too much fat, cholesterol, and other substances circulating in your blood can gather along your blood vessel walls. This can cause your arteries to hinder normal blood flow.

As you might guess, your blood cholesterol level plays a major role in your development of PAD. But there are other factors that can increase your risk as well, including:

Although not as common, an injury to your limb can also damage your peripheral arteries and lead to PAD.

How do I know if I have PAD?

Only a medical exam can show if you have PAD. You may want to schedule an appointment if you’re experiencing common symptoms of PAD, such as:

The tell-tale sign of PAD is referred to as claudication, which is a painful sensation that develops in your leg or hip after walking of climbing the stairs.

At Prime Heart & Vascular, we can conduct a comprehensive examination to determine if you have PAD. Your exam would include a review of your medical and family history, a physical exam, and blood tests. We may also conduct imaging to get a better look at your arteries.

Stop the buildup

Fortunately, PAD is very treatable. But it requires action on your part. In order to reduce your risk of amputation, Dr. Shah recommends making lifestyle changes to slow down the plaque buildup. If you smoke, stop. If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, make changes to your diet and exercise to improve your numbers.

When needed, Dr. Shah can prescribe medication to help slow down the plaque buildup and may also recommend physical rehabilitation.

Improving blood flow

Depending on the extent of the blockage, you may also benefit from minimally invasive procedures to help restore blood flow to your extremities. Some of the procedures used here at Prime Heart & Vascular to improve blood flow include:

In most cases, you can go home the day of your procedure.

To see if you have peripheral artery disease and to get treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prime Heart & Vascular today.

Learn More


You Might Also Enjoy...

Leg Pain and Vein Disease: Understanding the Link

If you have pain in your legs, it’s easy to assume it’s from physical exertion or maybe the aches and pains of getting older. But chronic leg pain is not normal — and often, it’s caused by your veins. Here’s how the two are related.

5 Encouraging Facts About Your PAD Diagnosis

Peripheral artery disease is a serious condition that needs ongoing management. However, with the right treatment plan, you can stay healthy. Here are five things you should know about PAD and your health.

4 Ways to Minimize Your Spider Veins

With their purplish, bluish, or reddish weblike appearance, spider veins are aptly named. They’re also common — but you can take steps to reduce your risk of spider veins and their symptoms. Here are four tips to try.

How Does COVID-19 Affect the Heart?

COVID-19 infection has been linked with serious heart problems, even in people who haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease. If you’ve had COVID-19, here are five ways the infection could harm your heart.

5 Reasons to See a Specialist About Your Veins

Your vascular system is a complex system of delicate blood vessels that are vulnerable to their own health issues. If your veins are in trouble, you may have symptoms, and we can help. Read on to learn more.

The Link Between Sleep Quality and Heart Health

Think missing a few hours of sleep every few nights is okay? Think again. Quality deep sleep is one of the most important elements of optimal long-term health, including the health of your heart. Read on to learn more.