At least half of the people who have peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) don't have any signs or symptoms of it. Others may have a number of signs and symptoms.
Even if you don't have signs or symptoms, discuss with your doctor whether you should get checked for P.A.D. if you're:
- Aged 70 or older
- Aged 50 or older and have a history of smoking or diabetes
- Younger than 50 and have diabetes and one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis
People who have P.A.D. may have symptoms when walking or climbing stairs. These may include pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles. Symptoms also may include cramping in the affected leg(s) and in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Symptoms may ease after resting.
These symptoms are called intermittent claudication (klaw-de-KA-shen). During physical activity, your muscles need increased blood flow. If your blood vessels are narrowed or blocked, your muscles won't get enough blood. When resting, the muscles need less blood flow, so the pain goes away.
About 10 percent of people who have P.A.D. have claudication. This symptom is more likely in people who also have atherosclerosis in other arteries.
Other Signs and Symptoms
Other signs and symptoms of P.A.D. include:
- Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
- Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
- A pale or bluish color to the skin
- A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
- Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs
- Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.