Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is narrowing or blockage of arteries in your arms and legs.
The most common cause of PAD is the buildup of plaque on the inside of arteries. Plaque is made of extra cholesterol, calcium, and other material in your blood. Over time, plaque builds up along the inner walls of the arteries, including those that supply blood to your legs. This buildup leads to poor blood flow.
This information focuses on peripheral arterial disease of the legs, the area where it is most common.
When you have PAD of the legs and you walk or exercise, your leg muscles do not get enough blood, and you can get painful cramps. The cramps are called intermittent claudication.
Peripheral arterial disease is also called peripheral vascular disease.
Many people who have PAD do not have any symptoms. But if you have symptoms, you may have a tight, aching, or squeezing pain in the calf, thigh, or buttock. This pain usually happens after you have walked a certain distance. The pain goes away if you stop walking.
As PAD gets worse, you may have pain in your foot or toe when you are not walking. You also may have symptoms that you can see, such as:
Your doctor may suggest ways to relieve symptoms and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. These may include:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: June 4, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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