Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Warning Signs and Treatment Options

Calf Cramping

Peripheral Artery Disease is a common and very dangerous condition, affecting over 8 million Americans. The Mayo Clinic defines PAD as “a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce the blood flow to your limbs.”

It’s mostly known for affecting your legs but can also affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. PAD develops when blood is traveling through the arteries leaving behind deposits, known as plaque, which stick to the inside of the artery. This is called atherosclerosis, and left untreated, can lead to dangerous consequences. Knowing how to spot the warning signs and what treatment options are available can help prevent life-threatening complications from occurring.

Keep an eye out for these causes and symptoms:

A few common causes for PAD include smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, diet, and weight. Just like a heart attack is caused by a blocked artery in the heart, PAD is a similar type of blockage, only it takes place in your arm, leg, or other part of your body. PAD is one of the leading causes of limb amputation and puts you at a higher risk for a heart attack and/or stroke. Warning signs include:

  • Painful cramping in your calf and legs when you walk or move
  • Burning or aching pain in feet and toes while resting
  • Cool skin on the feet
  • Redness or color changes in skin
  • Toe and foot sores that don’t heal

Are you noticing any of these symptoms? If so, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the best course of action in order to avoid further problems.

What types of treatments are available?

For many, medication or lifestyle changes such as exercise and healthy eating are enough to treat and/or slow down Peripheral Artery Disease.

Regular physical activity

  • After talking with your healthcare provider, it may be recommended that you start a regular exercise training program, including leg exercises or walking outside or on a treadmill. This may be done at a rehabilitation center, depending on the severity of the condition, among other factors.

Maintaining a healthy diet

  • Many individuals dealing with PAD experience high cholesterol levels. There are various diets such as the mediterranean, DASH, and low-carb diet that are often recommended for PAD patients.

Smoking cessation

  • Tobacco is one of the top risk factors for PAD. If you’re a smoker, now’s the time to put out the cigarette. Quitting not only slows the progression of PAD, but also has the potential to reverse it completely.

Managing Diabetes

  • If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider to focus on the necessary lifestyle changes to help reduce any limb-related complications.


  • Medication is often prescribed for PAD patients to help reduce high-blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood clots.

PAD is a deadly disease that some don’t even know exists. Unfortunately, having no understanding of it can lead to dangerous and life-threatening conditions. Take time to educate yourself, talk with your healthcare provider, and maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet. Our Muskegon Surgical Associates team is here to encourage you to live your best and healthiest life. To learn more about our services, visit our website or call us at 231-739-9461.


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