Facts about Peripheral Arterial Disease


At NY Foot Health, one of our primary goals is educating patients about conditions that can affect the health of your feet. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is one that many people are unfamiliar with. Below are some important facts you need to know about this disorder.

What it is: Peripheral arterial disease is caused by fatty deposits, known as plaque, in the arteries of your legs. Too much plaque buildup can lead to narrowing and hardening of these arteries.

Why it’s dangerous: PAD reduces the blood flow to your legs and feet, causing poor circulation. Patients with PAD are at an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Impeded circulation means it’s difficult for wounds to heal. Along with diabetes, PAD is a leading cause of foot and leg amputation.

Who gets PAD: One in five people over the age of 70 have PAD. Currently it's estimated that 8 to 12 million Americans have this condition. Risk factors associated with PAD include:

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Physical inactivity

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

How do I know if I have PAD: Symptoms that may indicate PAD is a feeling of fatigue or tiredness and pain in your legs, thighs or buttocks that usually occurs when you walk but disappears when you rest. Other signs include toe or foot pain that is strong enough to wake you up at night and skin ulcers on your feet and toes that do not heal over the course of 8 to 12 weeks. Your podiatrist can administer a simple test called an ankle-brachial index or ABI, which compares the blood pressure in your ankles to the blood pressure in your arm. If your ABI is abnormal, the podiatrist may order other tests to determine the extent of PAD that is present. If you don’t currently have a podiatrist, use our online directory to find a foot doctor in your community.

How is PAD treated: you can slow the progression of PAD by making lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, and controlling blood pressure. There are also surgical options available for blocked arteries.

To learn more about health conditions that can impact the health of your feet and ankles, contact us.