Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries in the limbs, primarily the legs, become hardened and narrowed, usually due to the buildup of plaque. It is similar to coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease. As a result, when the muscles of your legs are working harder, such as during exercise, they cannot get enough blood and oxygen. Eventually, there may not be enough blood and oxygen even when the muscles are resting.
The most common symptoms of PAD are cramping, tingling in the extremities, pain or tiredness in the leg, calf or hip muscles while walking or exercising. Typically, this pain disappears with rest and returns when you walk or exercise again.
Learn more about PAD
What you should know:
Many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else.
PAD often goes undiagnosed by health care professionals.
People with peripheral vascular disease have four to five times more risk of heart attack or stroke.
Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation.
You are at especially high risk for PAD if you smoke, live a sedentary lifestyle, have a family history of PAD, are obese, are diabetic or have high cholesterol or blood pressure.