The Importance of Early Detection for Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral arteries are the arteries located outside of the heart and brain, specifically those that supply blood to the limbs (arms and legs) as well as other areas such as the abdomen and pelvis.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, most commonly affecting the legs. Risk factors for PAD include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, older age, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.

In this brief article brought to you by Cardiovascular Specialists of York, we share some symptoms and risks of PAD as well as some management tips. If you’d rather consult directly with a licensed cardiologist, then give us a call or message and schedule an appointment today.

What Causes Periphery Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is primarily caused by fatty deposits (plaque) build up in the walls of arteries. The exact cause of plaque buildup isn't fully understood, but several factors contribute to its development, including but not limited to:

  • Smoking: Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for PAD. It damages the arteries and accelerates the buildup of plaque.
  • High Cholesterol: Elevated levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol can lead to plaque formation in the arteries.
  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension can damage artery walls, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing PAD due to elevated blood sugar levels that can damage blood vessels.
  • Family History: Genetics play a role, and having a family history of PAD or atherosclerosis increases the risk.
  • Age: PAD becomes more common as people age, although it can occur at any age.

These factors can lead to an accumulation of plaque in the peripheral arteries, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow to the limbs. Over time, this reduced blood flow can lead to symptoms like leg pain. Let’s look at those symptoms now.

Understanding the Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) can manifest with various symptoms, and detecting it early is crucial for effective management. Here are common symptoms to be on guard for:

  • Leg Pain: Pain, cramping, or aching in the legs during physical activity, such as walking or climbing stairs, that typically subsides with rest. This is known as claudication.
  • Numbness or Weakness: Reduced sensation or weakness in the legs or feet.
  • Coldness: Coldness in the lower leg or foot, particularly compared to the other leg.
  • Change in Skin Color: Discoloration of the skin on the legs or feet, often appearing pale or bluish.
  • Slow Healing: Wounds or sores on the legs or feet that heal slowly or don't heal properly.
  • Poor Nail and Hair Growth: Decreased growth of toenails and leg hair.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: In men, PAD can contribute to erectile dysfunction (impotence).

If you experience symptoms suggestive of PAD, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional or licensed heart doctor in Stonybrook for evaluation and appropriate management. Early detection and intervention can help slow the progression of PAD, improve symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications.

See a Licensed Cardiologist

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a licensed heart doctor, then call Cardiovascular Specialists of York to get started by speaking with a member of our team.


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Hanover, PA

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York, PA

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Pennville, PA

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