Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is caused by a buildup of plaque, made up of fat and cholesterol, in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs. The plaque narrows the arteries, even blocks them, and can reduce or stop blood flow. When this happens, the legs can hurt or go numb. In serious cases, it can lead to tissue death, and if left untreated, amputation may be necessary. Patients with diabetes are particularly susceptible to this problem, as well as those who smoke. Other risk factors include elevated cholesterol, hypertension, and family history.
This condition can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It is possible to stop or reverse the buildup of plaque with certain lifestyle changes in diet and exercise. It is also important to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
If you or a loved one have risk factors for PAD and pain in the legs when walking, talk with one of our physicians.