Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), occurs when fat/plaque narrows your arteries, often reducing or blocking the flow of blood often due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). When the blood flow becomes severely limited to muscles, you feel pain, especially pain while walking, and eventually gangrene (dead part) resulting into amputation (cutting) of dead part. PAD is most commonly seen in the legs. It is very common and serious disease affecting people of age 50 and older. Because atherosclerosis is a systemic disease (can affect any part of body), individuals with PAD are likely to have blocked arteries in other areas of the body. Thus, those with PAD are at increased risk for heart disease, brain attack, etc.
Symptoms/Signs– It depends on many factors like location of artery blockage, stage of disease. Most common are Pain in the legs, leg weakness, reduced pulse, coldness of legs, discoloration of skin of legs, Ulcers/wound, thin shin skin, loss of hair and nail growth.
Causes/risk factors– Smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol level, obesity.
Diagnosis– Clinical examination of patient, imaging of blood vessels using color Doppler, CT angiography, MR angiography, DSA.
Treatment- Now percutaneous transluminal balloon angioplasty/stenting/atherectomy/thrombolytic therapy has revolutionarised the peripheral arterial disease treatment. However, medical management including risk factors modification, exercise therapy, drug therapy; Open surgery including bypass graft, cutting of diseased part, endarterectomy has its own role depending on symptoms, cause and stage of PAD.