Skip to Content

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Care

Peripheral Arterial Disease diagramIf you experience pain, achiness or fatigue in your arms, legs or feet when you walk or climb stairs, you may have peripheral arterial disease (PAD)—a serious circulatory issue that affects more than 8 million people in the U.S. Protect your health by partnering with the heart and vascular experts at Cone Health to improve your blood flow and prevent complications.

Could I Have Peripheral Arterial Disease?

PAD is caused by atherosclerosis—a buildup of plaque—in the arteries that supply blood to your arms, legs or pelvis. You may have no symptoms, or you may notice:

  • Pain, achiness or fatigue that comes on while walking or exercising, and then disappears after several minutes of rest
  • Cold or numb legs or feet
  • Leg pain that worsens when your legs are elevated, but improves when you’re sitting
  • Leg or foot sores that don’t heal

PAD Risk Factors

You’re at a higher risk of developing PAD if you’re a man over 50 or if you experience:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of arterial disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney disease requiring dialysis
  • Smoking
  • Stroke

How Is Peripheral Arterial Disease Diagnosed?

To diagnose PAD, your doctor will physically examine you, ask about your symptoms, and review your personal and family medical histories. You also may take diagnostic tests such as:

  • Ankle-brachial index – Measures the blood pressure in your ankle and your arm
  • Blood tests – Assess cholesterol and blood glucose
  • Diagnostic imaging tests
    • Arterial or venous duplex ultrasound – Shows how blood moves through the vessels in your abdominal area
    • Angiogram – Uses X-rays and special dye to view your arteries; arteriograms examine your arteries while venograms examine your veins
    • Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) – Uses computed tomography (CT) and a special dye to show plaque and other problems in your blood vessels
    • Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) – Uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a special dye to reveal plaque and other problems in your blood vessels

Accredited Vascular Imaging

You can trust Cone Health for safe, high-quality imaging tests because our vascular labs at CHMG HeartCare, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and Wesley Long Hospital are accredited in vascular testing by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC).

Conservative Treatments for PAD

If you’re diagnosed with PAD, you may be able to reduce symptoms, slow or stop the progression of your condition, and prevent future complications through conservative measures, such as:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Staying physically active
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing blood pressure, cholesterol and/or diabetes
  • Taking medication to prevent blood clots

Minimally Invasive Procedures for PAD

For severe blockages, you may need surgery to restore blood flow in your arteries. Whenever possible, your Cone Health heart and vascular team uses minimally invasive vascular or endovascular procedures performed with thin, flexible tube called catheters. That means you experience less pain and scarring and a shorter recovery time.

Depending on your condition, your care plan may include:

  • Angioplasty and stenting – Inflates a tiny balloon on the end of a catheter to press plaque against the artery wall, then places a small mesh tube called a stent to maintain the opening
  • Atherectomy – Uses special tools to carefully remove plaque from the artery

What to Expect

Before an angioplasty or atherectomy, you’ll receive local anesthesia and medication to help you relax. The procedures may take an hour or longer. Afterward, you’ll recover in the hospital for a few hours or overnight.

Find a Heart & Vascular Specialist

View our provider directory to find a cardiologist or vascular specialists near you.