Peripheral Artery Disease 

What is PAD?

PAD occurs when blood flow to your peripheral arteries such as arms, legs, and feet becomes restricted as plaque builds up on the inside walls of the arteries. During this process, called atherosclerosis, arteries harden and become narrow. As a result, arteries to the heart and brain can also harden and narrow, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

How is PAD related to amputation?

Recent studies have found that many individuals may be unaware that they are living with PAD and that it can lead to CLI and limb amputations. It has been reported that 71% of patients who had an amputation didn’t have any diagnostic testing prior to the amputation. Additionally, it is estimated that one out of every 200 people in the U.S. has had an amputation due to CLI. (Source)

Are you at risk for PAD?

Here are some factors that could put you at an increased risk for PAD:

  • Over 50 years
  • Smoker
  • Diagnosed with any of the following: diabetes, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol

Specifically, diabetes is a strong indicator of PAD and is associated with increased amputation risk. It is estimated that more than 60% of lower limb amputations occur in people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. (Source)

Symptoms of PAD

  • Tiredness, heaviness and cramping in the leg muscles
  • Pale, discolored or blue feet or toes
  • Leg or foot pain that disrupts your sleep
  • Sores or wounds on your toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly or not at all
  • Leg or foot that feels colder than the other
  • Thick, yellow toenails that do not grow

If these symptoms go untreated, PAD can reach the severe condition of CLI.

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