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Peripheral Vascular Disease

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, refers to deposits of fat and calcium that narrow arteries throughout the body. People with PAD have narrowed arteries in their extremities, (usually the legs) which reduce blood flow to the area and causes pain. In the next five years, one in four patients with peripheral arterial disease will suffer a heart attack, stroke, amputation or death.

Who Is At Risk Of Pad?

The risk factors which result in PAD are also closely associated with coronary artery disease and heart attack. In fact, people who have PAD very often have heart disease as well, whether they know it or not.

Who Should Be Screened?

You should be screened if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Anyone 65 years and older should consider a yearly exam
  • If you are 55 years and older with one of the following risk factors:
    • Diabetes Type 1 or Type 2
    • Stroke or TIA
    • Heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • If you are or were a smoker
    • Non healing wounds on the lower extremities
  • Any adult with symptoms of PAD
    • Painful cramping legs with walking
    • Achiness
    • Fatigue
    • Burning

Early detection and treatment of PAD can help prevent serious disease.


Claudication is discomfort or pain in your legs that happens when you walk and goes away when you rest. You may not always feel pain; instead you may feel a tightness, heaviness, cramping, or weakness in one or both of your legs. Claudication often occurs more quickly if you walk uphill or up a flight of stairs. Over time, you may feel claudication at shorter walking distances, as the degree of artery blockage worsens.