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Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition where the arteries that supply blood to the outer (peripheral) parts of the body become narrow or blocked. It most often affects the legs, though it can also affect the arms and some organs. PAD can also be called peripheral vascular disease.

The most common cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty deposits called plaques build up on the walls of the arteries. Blood clots can also form on the plaques. Over time, as the arteries get narrower, blood can’t flow as easily and parts of your body don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need.

Sometimes, other medical conditions such as Buerger's disease, vasculitis or Raynaud's disease cause PAD. PAD may also be caused by inflammation of the blood vessels, an injury, changes in your muscles or ligaments or exposure to radiation. 

What are the risk factors and symptoms of PAD?

PAD is most common in people who smoke and people who have diabetes. Your risk increases as you get older. PAD often develops slowly for years before you notice any symptoms.

Many people with PAD don’t have any symptoms, but some have leg pain that’s usually worse with activity and better with rest.

Learn more about PAD symptoms and risk factors.

How is PAD diagnosed?

Comparing the blood pressure in your ankles and arms can help your health care provider diagnose PAD. Imaging tests like ultrasound and angiography can show more detail about where the blockages are located and how severe they are.

Learn more about diagnosing PAD.

How is PAD treated?

Quitting smoking, making other lifestyle changes and taking medication can treat most cases of PAD. Sometimes, surgery is needed. Treatment is important to help prevent complications.

Learn more about treating PAD.

Test your risk for PAD

Are you worried about your chances of developing PAD? Our free online test can help you see if you should be screened for peripheral artery disease. Check your risk now and see if talking to your health care provider about PAD is a smart idea.