Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem that occurs when your extremities — usually your legs — don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand. Peripheral artery disease is also likely to be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries (atherosclerosis).
The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease is pain or cramping when walking, though some people may have no symptoms at all.
Other symptoms include:
Diagnosing peripheral artery disease is simple and painless. Most commonly, doctors use the ankle-brachial index (ABI), compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm.
For severe peripheral artery disease, an angiogram can allow a doctor to see the exact location of the blockage.
Many cases of peripheral artery disease can be treated with medication but more severe cases may require endovascular repair like angioplasty and bypass surgery. For angioplasty, the doctor may insert a mesh framework called a stent in the artery to help keep it open. This is the same procedure doctors use to open heart arteries. With bypass surgery, the doctor may create a graft bypass using a blood vessel made of synthetic fabric to allow blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.