PAD is a progressive condition. Symptoms may not appear until the condition has significantly progressed and complications appear. Over time, PAD may lead to:
Intermittent claudication is the most common symptom of PAD. Claudication is pain that occurs in the thigh, hip, calf, or foot while walking, using stairs, or exercising. The discomfort may consist of cramping, limping, or a feeling of heaviness, weakness, or fatigue. Symptoms of claudication usually begin after walking a certain distance, such as a block or 2, and end after resting for the same length each time.
Other possible symptoms of PAD may include: Numbness of the legs or feet at restCold legs or feetMuscle pain in the thighs, calves, or feetLoss of hair on the lower extremitiesPoorly growing or thick toenailsPaleness or blueness of the legs or feetWeak or absent pulse in the extremityWalking
troublesFoot wounds that heal slowly
Plaque Blocking an Artery
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In people that have symptoms, PAD may cause:
PAD can lead to severe complications, such as: Critical limb ischemia
—Ulcers that are slow to heal because of low or blocked blood flow (ischemia). These ulcers can lead to
. When the blood supply is cut off, the tissue does not get enough oxygen and begins to die. Gangrene can lead to
of the affected limb.
—As PAD progresses, walking distance decreases, which can affect your quality of life.
Hills AJ, Shalhoub J, et al. Peripheral arterial disease. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2009;70(10):560-565.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 20, 2016. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Symptoms and diagnosis of PAD. American Heart Association
website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/Symptoms-and-Diagnosis-of-PAD_UCM_301306_Article.jsp. Updated April 6, 2016. Accessed June 13, 2016.
What are the signs and symptoms of peripheral arterial disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad/signs.html. Updated November 16, 2015. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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