Peripheral Arterial Disease



Peripheral Arterial Disease, also called PAD, is a disease of the arteries where the blood flow is diminished or blocked due to a narrowing called atherosclerosis. This is caused by the development of plaque or fatty deposits that narrow the arterial lumen.

Peripheral artery disease occurs most often in the arteries taking blood flow to the legs, but it can also affect the arteries that go to the brain, aorta, kidneys, intestines, and arms. When vital tissues or organs of the body do not receive enough blood supply due to a blockage, the consequences could lead to a stroke, heart attack, loss of a limb, or death.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Reproducible calf or leg pain during walking
  • Lack of hair growth on your legs or arms
  • A wound that won’t heal
  • Shiny, thin skin on your legs
  • Black, dead tissue on your legs or arms
  • Numbness, heaviness or pain in your legs when you walk or are at rest
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Change in skin temperature (coldness)
  • Severe leg pain not relieved by rest
  • Thick toenails
  • Skin breakdown/open area on the skin
  • Black/foul-smelling skin on ulcers

Types of PAD:


Claudication is pain or cramping in the lower legs when walking that subsides with rest. Claudication is caused by an inadequate blood supply to the muscles.

Rest pain

Rest pain is a severe pain which occurs in the lower legs when blocked arteries do not allow enough blood flow and oxygen supply to the legs. This pain occurs even when at rest and often awakens the patient from sleep. Rest pain can occur in other areas such as the arm.


Ulcers occur when there isn’t adequate blood flow to an area. The skin breaks down and an open area develops.

Gangrene (Legs/ Arms)

Gangrene occurs when there isn’t adequate blood flow to the tissues of the extremity. As the lack of blood flow progresses, the area may not heal, and the skin can breakdown. The tissue becomes a black color and dies.

The Complexity of PAD

To learn more about Peripheral Artery Disease, click on the V-AWARE journal, a publication sponsored by Eastern Vascular Society.