Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is caused by a build-up of fatty deposits, or plaque (called atherosclerosis), inside the arteries that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. When arteries become partly or completely blocked with plaque, the flow of blood is restricted, which interferes with the delivery of oxygen and nutrients that your muscles and organs need to work properly. When you walk, climb stairs, play tenni, or are physically active in any way, your muscles and organs require even more blood that usual. When the muscle can’t get more blood due to the blockage of the arteries from PAD, the muscles are in pain. When you rest, the pain goes away (unless the blockage is severe) because the muscles are receiving the blood and oxygen they need.
PAD is a disease that not only affects not only how well you live but also how long you may live. You may find that that you can’t walk as far or for as long as you used to—and that’s frustrating—but if you have PAD, you are also at greater risk for having a heart attack and stroke. And yet as serious as PAD is, many people have never heard of it and don’t know how important it is to get help if you have it.
Who Is Affected by PAD?
More than 10 million people in the United States have PAD, sometimes called peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or poor circulation. You are at risk for PAD if:
- You have leg pain
- Smoke or have a history of smoking
- Are over 70 years old
- Are over 50 years old and have diabetes
- Are over 50 years old and smoke or have a history of smoking
Learn More About PAD
You can learn more about peripheral artery disease by following these links: