How to Treat Peripheral Arterial Disease?

  • January 05, 2024
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How to Treat Peripheral Arterial Disease?

What is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)?

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a subset of atherosclerosis, marked by plaque buildup in leg arteries, limiting blood flow to the extremities. This process, causing narrowing and the development of hard and soft plaque, may lead to severe artery obstruction if untreated. The progression of PAD varies among individuals, underscoring the need for a comprehensive understanding for timely intervention.

Why Does PAD Occur?

The primary driver behind the development of PAD is atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory condition that gradually narrows and obstructs arteries throughout the body. The accumulation of plaque on arterial walls disrupts the normal blood flow, particularly in the extremities, causing PAD. Various risk factors contribute to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis and, consequently, PAD. Age is a significant factor, as the risk of atherosclerosis increases with advancing age. Additionally, lifestyle choices such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol further exacerbate the risk of PAD. Diabetes, in particular, can accelerate atherosclerosis and increase the likelihood of complications associated with PAD. The combination of these risk factors creates an environment conducive to the formation of arterial plaque, setting the stage for PAD and its associated symptoms.

How Does PAD Manifest?

PAD typically manifests with symptoms related to insufficient blood flow to the lower extremities. The hallmark symptom is intermittent claudication, characterized by pain, cramping, or fatigue in the legs during physical activity. This discomfort subsides with rest but returns upon resuming activity. The severity of intermittent claudication varies among individuals, ranging from mild discomfort to debilitating pain that significantly impairs mobility and quality of life.

As PAD progresses, more severe symptoms may emerge. Critical limb ischemia, a condition marked by severely restricted blood flow, can lead to non-healing wounds, ulcers, and tissue necrosis. In extreme cases, untreated PAD may necessitate amputation. Recognizing these symptoms and addressing PAD in its early stages is crucial to prevent complications and preserve limb function.