Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Dr. Alrich L. Gray // Central Montana Heart & Vascular Institute

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease occurs when the blood vessels that carry blood to your arms and legs become narrowed or blocked, reducing the blood supply to your limbs. The narrowing of these arteries is usually caused by a buildup of plaque or fatty deposits (atherosclerosis). Peripheral artery disease most commonly affects the legs. Symptoms include:

  • Painful cramping in one or both of your hips, thighs or calf muscles when moving
  • Slow healing, hair growth, or nail growth on your feet or legs
  • A change in the color of your legs
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
  • Pain when using your arms

Your doctor may treat peripheral artery disease with drugs including cholesterol medications, beta blockers, anti-platelet medications, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics. These medications work by reducing plaque buildup, lowering your heart rate, reducing clotting, or lowering your blood pressure. Your doctor may also perform an angioplasty – in this procedure, a stent is inserted to the blocked part of your artery. The stent will widen the artery and keep it open, improving blood flow to your limbs.