Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is also known as atherosclerosis, poor circulation, or hardening of the arteries. PAD progresses over time at variable rates in each individual depending on the area of circulation effected and one's health and family history. The signs and symptoms of PAD may not arise until later in life. For many, the outward indications will not appear until the artery has narrowed by 60 percent or more.

One method the body uses to adapt to the narrowed arteries is the development of smaller peripheral arteries that allow blood flow around the narrowed area. This process is known as collateral circulation and may help explain why many can have PAD without feeling any symptoms.

When a piece of cholesterol, calcium or blood clot abruptly breaks from the lining of the artery or a narrowed artery blocks off completely, blood flow will be totally obstructed and the organ supplied by that artery will suffer damage. The organs in PAD most commonly affected and researched are the legs.

What happens if the disease worsens?

The severity of PAD depends on when it is detected and any pre-existing health factors; especially smoking, high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. In the later stages, leg circulation may be so poor that pain occurs in the toes and feet during periods of inactivity or rest.  This is especially true at night. This is known as rest pain, which usually worsens when the legs are elevated and is often relieved by lowering the legs (due to the effects of gravity on the blood flow).

;