Peripheral arterial disease characterizes a common circulatory problem caused by narrowed arteries that reduce blood flow to the limbs.

PAD is often caused by atherosclerosis, a widespread accumulation of fatty deposits (plaques) in the arteries, frequently accompanied by coronary heart disease. As a consequence, reduced blood flow to legs as well as heart and brain will be the result. The most common manifestation of PAD is called claudification. Claudification is the painful cramping in hip, thigh or calf muscles when walking or climbing stairs. Other symptoms include leg numbness or weakness, coldness in the lower leg or foot, blisters on the toes, feet or legs, change in color of the legs, hair loss or slower hair growth on the legs, slower growth of toenails, no or only weak pulse in the legs or feet, erectile dysfunction in men.

PAD risk factors include: smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and advanced age. In case PAD is associated with the build-up of plaques, the patient may be at risk to further develop critical limb ischemia, stroke or heart attack. The management of PAD consists of tobacco cessation in patients who smoke, regular exercise, controlling of the lipid profile, diabetes and hypertension on the one side and pharmacotherapy using antiplatelet or antilipemic agents. In severe cases patients need to undergo surgery.  

Source: mayoclinic.org; Medscape; Poredos et al, Journal International Angiology (2018)