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What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

Did You Know?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is estimated to affect over 202 million people worldwide[1].

The disease itself forms via atherosclerosis, a condition defined by a build-up of plaque (or fatty deposits) within the arteries. This plaque build-up causes the arteries supplying the limbs (known as the peripheral arteries) to narrow and harden, thereby restricting blood flow to the limbs[2], [3].

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Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease

What you can do to reduce the risk of developing PAD:

Lack of exercise as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
Smoking as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
Obseity as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
Poor diet as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
High cholestrol as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
High blood pressure as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
Diabetes as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
Stress as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease

What you can't change to prevent PAD:

Family history as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease
Older age (55+) as a risk factor for peripheral artery disease

Symptoms Of Peripheral Artery Disease

Half of people with PAD do not experience any symptoms, however those that do may have symptoms including[3], [4]:

  • > Leg pain or cramping
  • (the most common symptom)
  • > Leg weakness and/or numbness
  • > Sores on feet and/or legs that will not heal
  • > Changing skin colour
  • > Shiny, bald skin on legs

Treatment Of Peripheral Artery Disease

The current standard of treatment includes lifestyle changes, prescription medication, and sometimes surgery[6].

Medications for peripheral artery disease

Medications for PAD[7], [9]

For cholesterol control
Statins
For high blood pressure
Antihypertensives
For diabetes control
Insulin / antiglycaemic drugs
For blood clot prevention
Antiplatelets

Surgical scissors

Main Surgeries For PAD[7]

Angioplasty
Peripheral revascularisation
If experiencing:
acute limb ischaemia; or critical limb ischaemia, when in the chronic (longer term) and not acute stage
Bypass surgery

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Complications Of Peripheral Artery Disease

1. Acute limb Ischaemia

Acute decrease in blood flow to the limb due to plaque in the peripheral arteries breaking off and causing a blockage[5].

2. Amputation

If blood flow to the limbs is heavily restricted, this can result in tissue death or amputation[4].

Doctor and patient medical consultation

The Remaining Risk Of Peripheral Artery Disease

PAD patients are at higher risk of also having coronary artery disease and other vascular diseases. They are therefore at risk of associated complications such as heart attack and stroke, should plaque build-up block blood flow to the heart and/or brain[9], [10].

It is important to understand that your risk of further complications may still remain even after preventative treatment as plaque build-up can still occur. This is why it is necessary to monitor your vascular health and take necessary steps to control plaque build-up and keep your quality of life as good as it can be.

Scientists are also undertaking research in an area called vascular protection, to explore how risks for further complications can be lowered.

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