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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease?

Many people who have peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) don't have any signs or symptoms. Others may have many signs and symptoms.

Even if you don't have signs or symptoms, ask your doctor whether you should get checked for P.A.D. if you're:

Intermittent Claudication

People who have P.A.D. may have symptoms when walking or climbing stairs. These symptoms may include pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles.

Symptoms also may include cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Symptoms may ease after resting.

These symptoms are called intermittent claudication. During physical activity, your muscles need increased blood flow. If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, your muscles won't get enough blood, which will lead to symptoms. When resting, the muscles need less blood flow, so the symptoms will go away.

About 10 percent of people who have P.A.D. have claudication. This symptom is more likely in people who also have atherosclerosis in other arteries.

Other Signs and Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms of P.A.D. include:

  • Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
  • Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
  • A pale or bluish color to the skin
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
  • Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs
  • Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes
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Peripheral Arterial Disease Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Peripheral Arterial Disease, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

 
April 01, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

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