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Patient Education

Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.)

Are you suffering from leg pain, burning or aching in your calves, a wound in your foot or leg that won't heal? You may have Peripheral Arterial Disease.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) occurs when leg arteries become narrowed or blocked by plaque, a condition that raises the risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation and death. This condition affects 8-12 million Americans, as compared to 8.4 million Americans who have a history of cancer. With only about 25 percent of P.A.D. patients undergoing treatment, it is a disease that is largely under-diagnosed and under-treated.

P.A.D. can be characterized by a reduction in blood flow to the lower extremities due to plaque build-up in the leg arteries (also known as atherosclerosis). Plaque is made up of deposits of fats, cholesterol and other substances. Plaque formations can grow large enough to significantly reduce blood flow through an artery.

When leg arteries are hardened and clogged, blood flow to the legs and feet is reduced. The blockage remains in the peripheral arteries and can cause pain, changes in skin color and temperature, sores or ulcers and difficulty walking. If left untreated, P.A.D. can lead to Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI), a condition where not enough blood is being delivered to the leg to keep the tissue alive. Total loss of circulation to the legs and feet can cause gangrene and lead to amputation. Additionally, hardened arteries found in people with P.A.D. are a sign that they are likely to have hardened and narrowed arteries to the heart and the brain. As a result, people with P.A.D. are at high risk for having a heart attack or a stroke. People with P.A.D. may become disabled and not be able to go to work. As time goes on, they may have a very poor quality of life.


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