What Causes Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
Do you suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD)? If so, you may struggle to walk up the stairs, perform daily activities, or sleep comfortably at night. PAD affects the body’s circulation and is usually caused by excess fat and cholesterol in the blood building up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup, known as atherosclerosis, can block blood flow to your limbs.
Peripheral artery disease can cause a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms in your legs or feet. It is essential to note that because not everyone experiences symptoms in the early stages, you can have PAD and not be aware. The amount of plaque blocking your arteries will determine the severity of your condition.
Common symptoms of PAD include:
- FATIGUE, HEAVINESS, OR CRAMPING IN THE LEGS
- DIFFICULTY WALKING OR CLIMBING STAIRS
- PAIN THAT STOPS WHEN AT REST
- FOOT AND LEG PAIN THAT DISTURBS SLEEP
- SLOW OR NON-HEALING WOUNDS
- SKIN DISCOLORATION (PALE OR BLUE)
- SHINY SKIN ON THE LEGS
- ONE LEG THAT IS COOLER THAN THE OTHER
- COLD OR NUMB TOES
- POOR TOENAIL GROWTH
- LOSS OF HAIR ON LEGS
- ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Peripheral artery disease is considered to be a progressive condition. Without intervention, your PAD symptoms are likely to worsen over time. You should also be aware that vascular disease can place you at increased risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Advanced PAD can also lead to critical limb ischemia (gangrene) and the loss of a limb.
If you are concerned about your vascular health, we recommend contacting your doctor or a vascular specialist for personalized recommendations, or calling us at 888.773.2193.
Causes of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Your arteries have an important job to do. They are responsible for transporting blood from the heart to the limbs. When vascular disease disrupts this process, your lower extremities will not receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to work effectively. Consequently, your mobility and quality of life may decline.
The good news is that we have some understanding of what causes peripheral artery disease. As mentioned previously, PAD tends to develop as a result of plaque buildup in the arteries. Other potential PAD causes include blood vessel inflammation, injury to your limbs, radiation exposure, and unusual anatomy.
Unfortunately, the exact causes behind the plaque build up that leads to PAD are less clear. Why are some people affected while others are not? We know that there are numerous risk factors involved, including genetics and lifestyle factors. Although you can’t control your genes, you may be able to make certain lifestyle modifications to help alleviate symptoms and improve your vascular health.
What Are the Risk Factors for PAD?
There are a range of potential peripheral artery disease risk factors that involve your genetics and lifestyle.
Some PAD risk factors include:
- Age: Individuals over the age of 50 are more likely to develop PAD.
- Sex: While women can have PAD, men are more commonly affected.
- Smoking: Both smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with vascular disease, as well as people who were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Diabetes: About one in three people over age 50 with diabetes is likely to have PAD.
- High blood pressure: Having high blood pressure can significantly raise your risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
- High cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol in the body can contribute to atherosclerosis.
- Diet: Eating a poor diet can lead to poor vascular health.
- Inactivity: Following a sedentary lifestyle can slow blood circulation and affect your arteries.
- Personal or family history: If you or a close relative has a history of vascular disease, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke, you are at increased risk for PAD.
- Race: Individuals who are of African-American or Hispanic descent are more likely than caucasian people to develop PAD.
- Atherosclerosis: If you have plaque buildup in your arteries, a diagnosis of PAD may soon follow.
If you are concerned about your risk factors for peripheral artery disease, we recommend consulting with a vascular specialist as soon as possible.
Schedule Your Appointment at USA Vascular Centers
At USA Vascular Centers, our experts care about your arterial health. We know that peripheral artery disease causes and risk factors are often concerning. We also know that sometimes lifestyle improvements and medications are not enough to avoid or control PAD.
When treatment is recommended, our national network of 40+ medical centers can help. We provide minimally invasive, outpatient treatment options for peripheral artery disease. You may be relieved to learn that you don’t need to stay in the hospital to get the help you need. We perform a range of effective, office-based procedures that aim to restore blood flow to your limbs. Our procedures take less than two hours from start to finish, allowing you to go home the same day to recover in the comfort of your own home.
When you are ready to reclaim your mobility and improve your life, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation with one of our leading vascular specialists. For your convenience, we offer both virtual and in-office appointments. Wherever you choose to schedule, we look forward to meeting you. Give us a call at 888.773.2193 so you can get you back to a healthier, more active life in no time.