What are potential complications of peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?

Dr. Lyndon C. Box, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Lyndon Box, MD, from West Valley Cardiology Services, says potential complications of peripheral artery disease include stroke, amputation and other cardiovascular conditions. Watch the video to learn more about peripheral artery disease.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or blockage of arteries outside of your heart is a form of vascular disease and is a circulatory problem. Similar to clogging of the arteries of your heart, PAD may represent clogging of arteries elsewhere such as in your legs or in your neck. Advanced PAD is the number one cause of amputations in people over 65.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is generally associated with blocked arteries of the legs. The presence of atherosclerosis (buildup of hard fatty material) in the leg arteries is a strong indicator that there is also atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart and brain, because atherosclerosis is a widespread disease of the arteries. Atherosclerosis of the leg arteries may cause a blockage, obstructing blood flow, and potentially result in pain in the leg(s), ulcers or wounds that do not heal, and/or the need for amputation (surgical removal) of a foot or leg. Therefore, PAD has two major complications associated with its presence: limb complications (nonhealing wounds, ulcers, gangrene, loss of a limb) and risk for stroke and/or heart attack.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot on TV about peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is also called peripheral vascular occlusive disease. It’s basically a buildup of cholesterol within the blood vessels. Primarily, people on TV talk about a buildup in the legs, but actually it's a systemic process and occurs throughout the body in just about every vascular bed.

We're often asked about PAD and its significance, and although some of the symptoms that we see people for are primarily related to leg pain and walking, we sometimes see limb-threatening problems or ischemia. The significance of PAD is it actually is a sign that you have hardening of the arteries throughout the body and the most common death in people with PAD is actually not related to the PAD so much as to atheromatous disease, which involves the coronary arteries.
Dr. Anthony G. Smeglin, MD
Interventional Cardiologist
Potential complications of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) include an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. What that translates into is that once someone has the diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease, they have a five year elevated risk of a cardiovascular problem. As such, risk factors and therapies are directed not only at peripheral arterial disease but also at the cardiovascular system in general.

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