Peripheral Artery Disease What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?
In the United States, more than 8 million people ages 40 and older have peripheral artery disease, or PAD. Also called peripheral arterial disease, PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, or buildup, that reduces the flow of blood in peripheral arteries — the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. This health topic focuses on the most common type of PAD, called “lower PAD,” which reduces blood flow to the legs and feet.
You may have lower extremity PAD if you have muscle pain or weakness that begins with physical activity, such as walking, and stops within minutes after resting. About 1 in 4 people who have PAD experience these symptoms. But you may experience other symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you smoke or have high blood pressure or other risk factors for PAD, even without symptoms, ask your healthcare provider about getting tested. It is important to be aware that if you have lower extremity PAD, you may also have plaque buildup in other arteries leading to and from your heart and brain, putting you at higher risk of stroke or heart attack.
Early diagnosis and management of PAD can help treat your symptoms and reduce your risk for serious complications.