Peripheral Arterial Disease: An Overview



Peripheral Artery Disease: An Overview

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a circulatory problem that affects the limbs, is on the rise and in 2020, over 50 million Americans had peripheral arterial disease (PAD). It is a blood vessel disease that affects the arteries that carry blood to the limbs and causes reduced blood flow. 

About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up ion the artery walls that supply blood to the limbs leading to poor sometimes critically poor circulation

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) - What is it?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when plaque, made up of fat, cholesterol and other materials, builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the limbs. This can lead to a decrease in blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles and tissues in the legs. As blood flow in the blood vessels decreases symptoms can develop and progress to leg pain at rest and even gangrene where digits begin to change color. Early detection and early diagnosis is vital and knowing the warning signs is a key to getting treatment for your blocked arteries.



What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD)?

The most common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease, a form of peripheral vascular disease, are cramping, pain, fatigue, heaviness or aching in the leg and calf muscles after walking short distances (usually less than 200 yards). As severe PAD develops pain in the leg muscles may also occur at rest and is usually more severe at night. As it progresses more, blood supply becomes more compromised - critical limb ischemia. Now people with peripheral artery disease PAD may experience poor wound healing and coldness in their feet and then discolored digits - gangrene.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) - Am I at risk?

There are several known risk factors for developing PAD (peripheral artery disease), including:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Being over 50 years old

Other risk factors for peripheral artery disease (PAD) include family history and race – African Americans are at greater risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) .

By looking at the risk factors and understanding that peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a buildup of fatty plaque on artery walls that causes reduced blood we can see that other diseases can be associated wit peripheral arterial disease (PAD) like coronary artery disease and heart attack, and carotid artery disease and stroke

Most of these PAD risk factors can be decreased with lifestyle changes which include moderate exercise, quitting smoking, controlling diabetes and dietary changes to decrease saturated fat and body mass index.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) - What can I do about my PAD?

First of all you need to find out whether you have peripheral artery disease (PAD). If you do then you to find out how severe. Next you need to find out what you can do about it:

  • lifestyle changes
  • medicines
  • non surgical PAD treatments
  • surgical treatments
  • limb amputation



Do I have my PAD? How do doctors diagnose PAD?

Your doctor will likely obtain a medical history and perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. He or she may also order tests to check for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) , such as an ankle brachial index (ABI) or a treadmill test. Using a blood pressure cuff, the ABI test measures the blood pressure in your ankles and arms. A low blood pressure reading in the ankles suggests PAD. The treadmill test can help determine how much oxygen your body is getting when you walk. The may also obtain imaging tests including:

  • Doppler ultrasound
  • CT angiography
  • magnetic resonance angiography
  • angiography

How severe is my PAD?

Less blood flow means more symptoms! As blood vessels become more blocked by severe PAD, flow is compromised, and a condition called critical limb ischemia develops. The fatty plaque buildup (fatty deposits) reduces blood flow and with critical limb ischemia you are at increased risk of lower leg symptoms:

  • resting leg pain 
  • non healing ulcers and sores 
  • discoloration of the skin (especially in the feet and toes) 
  • coldness in the feet and legs 
  • gangrene

What are things that wll make a difference to my peripheral arterial disease (PAD) ?

Early on you can change your lifestyle and, if needed, use prescribed medication.

Lifestyle - what can I do to help my peripheral artery disease (PAD)?

Early on you can slow down or prevent PAD by making sure you:

  • quit smoking, smoking cessation
  • exercise moderately
  • eat better and avoid saturated fat
  • manage your diabetes
  • mange your blood pressure 

Medications - what can I take to decrease my peripheral artery disease (PAD) symptoms

If you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) , your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications:

  • antiplatelet drugs 
  • statins 
  • ACE inhibitors
  • angiotensin receptor blockers 
  • beta blockers 
  • peripheral vasodilators 

Imaging & Interventional Specialists offer FDA-approved treatments (non-surgical alternatives) to treat peripheral arterial disease.


Call us now or schedule an appointment to discuss your condition and your options.


What non surgical PAD treatments do Imaging and Interventional Specialists use? 

When lifestyle changes and medications fail to decrease PAD symptoms non surgical treatments can be used to restore blood flow and tread a narrowed artery or even blocked artery.

Non surgical PAD treatments can involve:

  • balloon angioplasty - pushing a blocked artery open again
  • stent placement - holding a blocked artery open with a cylindrical mesh
  • atherectomy - "shaving" and removing the material that is narrowing the artery

There are advanced revascularization techniques that include drug releasing balloons and stents. The anti-proliferative drugs released aim to stop repeated narrowing (restenosis) of your arteries.

Amputation & amputation prevention

Surgical options include:

  • bypass surgery - to shift blood flow around diseased blood vessels
  • endarterectomy - to cut open arteries and remove the blocking plaque
  • amputation - a lifesaving procedure to cut off an infected part of the limb for which there is no hope of returning blood flow

Why is amputation prevention so important?

Almost half of all amputations occur in people with diabetes, which is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation in the United States. Nearly 80% of lower-extremity amputations are preceded by signs and symptoms of PAD.

The negative effects of amputation include:

  • physical and emotional stress 
  • pain 
  • reduced mobility and independence 
  • loss of work or employment 
  • depression and social isolation 
  • higher risk for other health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

All of these lead to decrease in life expectancy which decreases. 

Mortality following amputation ranges from:

  • 13 to 40% in 1 year, 
  • 35–65% in 3 years, and 
  • 39–80% in 5 years

This is worse than many cancers! Therefore, amputation-free survival is key goal in the management of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) especially diabetic leg and foot problems.

What are the advanges of the minimally invasive, "pinhole" procedures performed by Imaging & Interventional Specialists?

Our seasoned board-certified specialists successfully perform “pinhole” procedures every day offering this region world-class, leading, state-of-the-art solutions to peripheral artery disease. Advantages include:

  • Procedures are done in a comfortable outpatient setting with familiar friendly staff,
  • Fast recovery, 
  • Less risk,
  • Less pain


Imaging & Interventional Specialists are leaders in interventional radiology and experts in the minimally invasive procedures that will cure or minimize your peripheral vascular disease

Using state-of-the-art equipment, our experienced board-certified specialists are focused on your best outcome.

Early detection of PAD is very important since it can progress to gangrene due to critical limb ischemia. At Imaging & Interventional Specialists our board certified physicians offer in-house testing to determine the cause and develop an individualized treatment program for your peripheral arterial disease

Schedule a FREE consultation today!



Imaging & Interventional Specialists
1601 Murchison Drive
El Paso, TX 79902
Phone: 915-303-8977
Fax: 915-779-9988

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