Peripheral vascular disease (arteries)

General or Other | - Others | Peripheral vascular disease (arteries) (Disease)


Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, is a general term that refers to artery disease anywhere outside of your heart, including the arteries that supply blood to your legs, arms, brain, kidneys, and other organs. This section focuses on disease in the arteries of the legs, the most common kind of PAD.

Causes and Risk factors

The most common cause of PAD is hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), the gradual buildup of fatty deposits (called plaque) on the walls of the arteries that slow or block blood flow. Plaque buildup also causes the artery walls to stiffen, making them unable to widen when the tissues need more blood, such as during exercise. Atherosclerosis is the same process that causes coronary artery disease when it happens in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, and can cause a stroke when it blocks blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to the brain.

One in 20 people over 50 have PAD. Many people with PAD have mild or no symptoms, and only about 10 percent of people with PAD have typical intermittent claudication. Nevertheless, PAD is very common and affects between 8 million and 12 million Americans.

Only a small percentage of individuals with PAD will ever face a risk of amputation. PAD is, however, the leading cause of amputation in people age 50 and over and accounts for 90 percent of amputations overall.

Diagnosis and Treatment

CT angiogram or standard angiogram can identify the narrowing the artery.

The treatment depends on the severity of disease and the location but may include: strict blood pressure control, diabetes control, smoking cessation, anticoagulants, and anti-platelet medications (aspirin, clopidogrel). Surgical procedures include intra-arterial stenting and bypass. ...

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