Causes of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Do you suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD)? Having PAD may make it difficult to manage many of your daily tasks, especially those that require walking. You may even have trouble sleeping well at night.

PAD is caused by the buildup of excess fat and cholesterol in the arteries, restricting blood flow and causing poor circulation. You may experience various symptoms with PAD, like cramping in your legs; however, even when diagnosed, people may not have any indication of their condition, especially in the early stages. 

The accomplished doctors at USA Vascular Centers can help you determine if you have PAD and treat it, so you can enjoy a more active life.



What Causes 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. 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 of your muscles or ligaments.

Unfortunately, the exact causes behind the plaque buildup that leads to PAD are less clear. Why are some people affected while others are not? Numerous risk factors are involved, including your genetics and lifestyle. Although you can’t control your genes, there are certain lifestyle modifications you can make that may alleviate symptoms and improve your vascular health.

What Are the Most Common PAD Causes?

The most common cause of PAD is atherosclerosis. This condition causes fatty deposits to build up along the walls of the artery, which leads to restricted blood flow and a hardening of the arteries. High cholesterol, high blood sugar level, and high blood pressure are contributing factors to both atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease.

In time, pieces of plaque may break off and enter your bloodstream, causing a blood clot that can block the blood flow to a specific part of your body. Atherosclerosis is often discussed in reference to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. However, the blockages or clots formed can impact other arteries in the body, including those in your legs. If this happens, you may notice pain in the legs when walking, otherwise known as claudication. Blood pressure may be lower in the affected limb. 

Common causes of atherosclerosis include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Insulin resistance or diabetes
  • Inflammation

If the clot breaks off into an artery in the leg or plaque builds up and restricts blood flow to the legs, you may develop PAD, which can impact circulation and mobility. 

Peripheral Artery Disease Causes Related to Health

PAD may also be caused by vasculitis. This inflammation of blood vessels causes them to become thicker and restricts blood flow. Vasculitis isn’t a single condition, but rather a group of conditions under a broad heading. Many of the types are rare and may haveshort- or long-term effects. Some of these conditions cause the veins and arteries to narrow or become blocked, particularly in your lower body, which reduces your blood flow. This can result in peripheral artery disease, which can cause pain in your legs even at rest. 

Schedule Your Consultation at USA Vascular Centers Today

When you are ready to reclaim your mobility and improve your life, we invite you to talk with one of our leading vascular specialists. Our national network of more than 40 medical centers offers minimally invasive, outpatient treatments for PAD. If you want to learn more about our services and how we can help you, schedule an appointment or call 888.773.2193. 



Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve the quality of your life; help you keep your independence and mobility; and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, and even death.