06/15/2009 - Questions and Answers

Peripheral Arterial Disease

By: Novoviva webmaster



My father suffered from peripheral artery disease, and I'm worried I may be at risk for this terrible condition. I'm 56, and apart from an enlarged prostate, I'm well.

What should I do?


A new set of guidelines for the diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) have recently been published. But it's important for you to know about the recognized risk factors for PAD involving the leg arteries:

If you're under 50 - diabetes, or another atherosclerosis risk factor
If you're between 50 and 70 - diabetes, or a history of smoking
If you're over 70 - that's a risk factor in itself!
Pain in the leg on exertion, or even at rest (typically, 'claudication' is when pain comes on in the calf when you've walked a given distance).
Abnormal pulse in the lower leg (diagnosed by the doctor)
Known atherosclerotic artery disease

This sort of arterial disease (atherosclerosis) can affect other 'peripheral' artery systems: the kidneys (renal arterial disease), the mesenteric arteries (which supply the intestines), and the main artery itself, resulting in a bag-like enlargement (an aortic aneurism). These varieties of PAD have different risk factors, which we cannot elaborate on here (see links below).

If someone has established PAD of the lower limb (often diagnosed by differences in the blood pressure when measured at the ankle and the upper arm), they can undergo bypass surgery or angioplasty. Both methods have their pros and cons. In bypass surgery, a grafted vessel is used to bypass the blockage in the atheromatous artery. Angioplasty, on the other hand, involves insertion into the artery of a small balloon, which is then dilated to expand the diameter of the artery at the site of the blockage.

You should try your best to avoid developing atherosclerosis in your blood vessels. This means plenty of exercise, a healthy diet, weight control, no smoking, and annual checks for raised glucose or cholesterol.

Related Links
Renal Artery Stenosis
Mesenteric Arterial Disease
Aortic Aneurysm

Created on: 01/23/2006
Reviewed on: 06/15/2009

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Anonymous wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

I have Diabetes, and my right arm and hand are swollen, I am experiencing some pain in that are and shoulder in am and when sleeping on that side. MRA and exrays negative. Can artery disease also affect veins? What general causes could induce swelling when no trauma is involved?