Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Blood pressure measurement from the popliteal artery leg Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a common and growing condition in the United States. It affects millions of Americans and results from narrowing blood vessels in the legs due to the buildup of fatty plaque called atherosclerosis. If left undiagnosed and untreated, PAD can lead to serious health issues such as critical limb ischemia, heart attack, and stroke.

Risk Factors for PAD

Various factors increase the risk for PAD, including age 50 years or older, having family members with PAD, being a current or former smoker, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney disease, diabetes, or obesity.

Symptoms of PAD

PAD most commonly affects the legs but can also be present in the arms, stomach, and head. Common symptoms include pain or cramping in the legs after exertion, coldness in the lower leg or foot on one side only, leg weakness or numbing, and a weak pulse in the legs or feet. However, PAD can sometimes present no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis and Treatment

PAD can be diagnosed through the ankle brachial index test and imaging tests such as an ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or computed tomographic (CT) angiography. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and smoking cessation can reduce the risk of PAD.

Medical management of PAD may include controlling diabetes, losing weight, lowering cholesterol, and reducing blood pressure. There are also minimally invasive endovascular options for treating PAD, such as angioplasty, inserting a tubular metallic mesh stent, and laser removal of plaque buildup. PAD may require surgery if minimally invasive treatment is not effective.


PAD is a serious condition that deserves attention. If you are experiencing symptoms such as leg pain or weakness, seeking medical attention is vital. By reducing your risk and receiving proper treatment, you can protect your overall health and prevent PAD from progressing to more serious health issues.

Protect Your Heart and Veins: Visit Premier Heart and Vein Care

Make your heart and vein health a priority this year. To ensure optimal heart and vein health, visit Premier Heart and Vein Care in San Luis Obispo, CA. Our cardiology office is dedicated to providing high-quality care for all our patients. Get more information or schedule an appointment by calling (805) 540-3333.

Schedule a Consultation

* All indicated fields must be completed.
Please include non-medical questions and correspondence only.

Office Information

Mon - Thur: 7:30am - 5:30pm
Fri - Sun: Closed

Accessibility Toolbar

Scroll to Top