Peripheral vascular disease, also known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), is a narrowing of the blood vessels, particularly in the legs. Many people attribute the warning signs of PAD to aging, but it’s a serious condition that can lead to amputation if left untreated. To learn more about PAD and how you can stay healthy, make an appointment with cardiologist and peripheral vascular specialist Azadeh Beheshtian, MD. Dr. Beheshtian provides knowledgeable care to patients with PAD at her practice in New York City. Contact the office today to request your first appointment.
Peripheral Vascular Disease Q & A
What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?
Peripheral arterial disease, also called PAD or sometimes referred to as peripheral vascular disease, is a circulatory condition that affects blood flow to your arms and legs. It’s caused by narrow arteries in your arms or legs, and it limits the blood flow to your limbs. It’s most common in your legs and it can cause leg pain.
PAD is often a sign of atherosclerosis, or widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your blood vessels. It can reduce blood flow throughout your body and restrict blood and oxygen from reaching your heart, brain, and legs. If left untreated, PAD can lead to amputation of limbs, stroke, or heart attack.
What are the signs of peripheral arterial disease?
PAD shows few or no signs in most patients. Many people with PAD don’t know they have the condition, and just assume that the symptoms they are experiencing are due to age. The most common symptom is pain in your legs when you walk, or claudication.
Claudication can feel like muscle pain or cramping that occurs when you walk, but disappears after you stop moving. The pain can appear wherever the artery is blocked, but is most common in your calf. Along with pain or cramping in the legs when walking, other signs of PAD include:
- Coldness in the lower leg or foot
- A change in skin color
- Wounds or sores that don’t heal
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Without treatment, PAD pain can become more severe. You might experience pain when resting, and it can even disrupt sleep.
What causes peripheral arterial disease?
PAD is caused by plaque buildup in your arteries, or atherosclerosis. When fatty plaque deposits build up in the arteries of your legs, blood flow is restricted and PAD develops.
There are a number of risk factors that cause PAD, including:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
People over the age of 50, or who have a family history of PAD, heart disease, or stroke, are also at increased risk of developing the condition.
How is peripheral arterial disease treated?
Seeking treatment for PAD helps prevent the development of disabilities. Treatment helps manage pain and stop the progression of plaque buildup to keep you as healthy as possible. For patients in the early stages of PAD, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or increasing your activity level can help stop PAD.
Medications to lower cholesterol, manage high blood pressure, and control blood sugar can all help reduce your risk for complications associated with PAD. Dr. Beheshtian recommends the best PAD treatment plan for you.
To learn more about PAD and find out what your treatment options are, make an appointment with Dr. Beheshtian today. Call the office or book online.