Leg pain. Wounds on the legs that won’t heal. Blue or pale-colored feet. Heaviness in the legs when active. These are all common symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries which limits blood flow to the limbs. One in every twenty Americans has PAD and needs to be diagnosed promptly by a vascular specialist to decrease long-term risks as much as possible.

Some may dismiss these symptoms.  However, if left unmanaged, peripheral artery disease can result in amputation or death. Recognizing the symptoms and getting a diagnosis from an interventional radiologist are very important. Additionally, understanding the common PAD risk factors can help determine if you should be tested more regularly.

Here are the top 7 PAD risk factors: 

Smoking 

The primary risk factor for peripheral artery disease is smoking. Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop PAD than nonsmokers. 

Age 

Those over 50 years of age are at a higher risk of developing PAD. It is common for patients over 50 to present no symptoms or assume the symptoms are a natural part of aging. This can lead to delayed diagnosis. We recommend frequent PAD screenings as it is non-invasive and can easily be done at our outpatient clinic here at MIVA. 

High Blood Pressure 

Blood pressure spikes can be normal when they are brought on by stress or exercise. When blood pressure is elevated for extended periods of time, it can contribute to the development of plaque in the arteries which can lead to peripheral artery disease. 

High Cholesterol 

High levels of “bad cholesterol” or LDL can also lead to blocked arteries. Insufficient levels of HDL, the “good cholesterol,” can also put you at a higher risk. 

Diabetes 

Diabetics are at a greater risk for PAD as well as other cardiovascular diseases. This is because Type 2 diabetes can damage the circulatory system over time. Diabetics should be screened at least every five years since diabetic neuropathy can mask symptoms of peripheral artery disease. 

Ethnicity

African Americans are at much higher risk of developing PAD than other ethnicities. Men and women are equally at risk.

Family History 

You are almost twice as likely to get peripheral artery disease if your family has a history of it. The risk grows even more if the family member’s PAD developed before they were 68. 

At MIVA, we provide several PAD treatments that can greatly improve quality of life and manage symptoms. Read our patients’ testimonials to learn how we can help.

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