Here are the signs of peripheral arterial disease, and how to reduce your risk

Many of the estimated 12 million Americans who have peripheral arterial disease don’t realize they have the condition, says Dr. Jihad Mustapha, an endovascular interventionist at Metro Health.

Knowing the signs of PAD and getting screening can lead to early detection and treatment. As the condition progresses, it can lead to severe pain and immobility.

Here are facts about PAD, according to the American Heart Association:

Risk factors

• A person’s risk for PAD increases with age and is affected by family history. But the risk for PAD can be lowered by taking the following steps:

• Don’t smoke

• Lose weight if you are obese

• Keep moving – Exercise programs are one of the treatments for PAD

• Manage cholesterol levels

• Manage blood pressure

Symptoms of PAD

Painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising is the most common sign of PAD. Many people have no symptoms or mistake the symptoms for arthritis, sciatica or stiffness from getting older.

Signs of severe PAD include –

• Leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising

• Foot or toe wounds that won’t heal or heal very slowly

• Gangrene

• A marked decrease in temperature in the lower leg or foot, particularly compared to the other leg or rest of the body


• A physical exam for PAD includes checking for a weak pulse in the legs.

• Ankle-brachial index – blood pressure readings are taken in the ankles and compared to the blood pressure measured in the arms

More information

To learn more about the risks, symptoms and treatments for peripheral arterial disease, go to the American Heart Association.