Peripheral Artery Disease Information
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart, become clogged and can no longer provide adequate blood flow to the limbs and extremities. This common disease is closely related to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of arteries due to a buildup of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and other substances.
Sometimes called peripheral arterial disease, PAD has several main causes:
- Poor diet
- Inadequate exercise
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
These factors can cause peripheral artery disease to develop gradually as the arteries become increasingly blocked. Symptoms are often mild at first and tend to worsen over time. Because this disease affects the limbs, oftentimes people first experience symptoms in their legs. Common signs in the legs that could indicate PAD include:
- Muscle pain, especially during exertion
- Hair loss
- Shiny skin
- Weak pulse
- Slow-growing toenails or leg hair
PAD may lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated, as it can increase risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, severely limited blood flow to the legs could cause gangrene (tissue death), which could potentially require amputation if severe. Fortunately, because most of the conditions that are correlated with PAD are lifestyle factors, many individuals can successfully improve their condition by making lifestyle adjustments. In some cases, physicians also prescribe medications or opt for surgery.
In 2016, TGH earned recognition as one of the nation’s top 50 hospitals for cardiology and heart surgery according to U.S. World & News Report. As a leading medical center in Florida, our hospital is well equipped to treat many heart and vascular conditions.