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Definition and Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a common circulatory condition characterized by narrowed arteries in the limbs, primarily the legs, due to the buildup of plaque. While PAD can affect anyone, certain risk factors increase its likelihood. Age is a significant factor, as the risk of PAD increases with advancing years. Smoking, a well-known risk factor, significantly accelerates the development of PAD. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels also contribute to arterial narrowing, making individuals with these conditions more susceptible. A family history of vascular disease may indicate a genetic predisposition. Lifestyle choices, such as a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in saturated fats, can exacerbate PAD risk factors. Understanding these risk factors is crucial because PAD can lead to serious complications such as reduced mobility and non-healing ulcers, in addition to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Early detection and management, through lifestyle modifications and medical interventions, can help mitigate these risks and improve overall vascular health. If you suspect you may have PAD or have multiple risk factors, it is suggested that you consult a podiatrist for evaluation and guidance.

Peripheral artery disease can pose a serious risk to your health. It can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. If you have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, consult with our podiatrist from Dr. Powers Foot and Ankle. Our doctor will assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is when arteries are constricted due to plaque (fatty deposits) build-up. This results in less blood flow to the legs and other extremities. The main cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up in the arteries.


Symptoms of PAD include:

  • Claudication (leg pain from walking)
  • Numbness in legs
  • Decrease in growth of leg hair and toenails
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sores and wounds on legs and feet that won’t heal
  • Coldness in one leg

It is important to note that a majority of individuals never show any symptoms of PAD.


While PAD occurs in the legs and arteries, Podiatrists can diagnose PAD. Podiatrists utilize a test called an ankle-brachial index (ABI). An ABI test compares blood pressure in your arm to you ankle to see if any abnormality occurs. Ultrasound and imaging devices may also be used.


Fortunately, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, managing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and quitting smoking, can all treat PAD. Medications that prevent clots from occurring can be prescribed. Finally, in some cases, surgery may be recommended.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Bloomington, Bedford, and Washington, IN . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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