What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?

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Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is blockage of arteries outside of the heart and brain, most often used to describe arterial blockages in the legs.

PAD can affect your quality of life, often making walking difficult.

When blockages are found in the legs, it is highly likely that there are blockages in other areas of the body; thus making PAD a marker for premature cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and death.

A major sign of PAD is claudication, which involves fatigue, heaviness, tiredness and cramping in the leg muscles (buttocks, thigh, calf) that occurs during activities such as walking or climbing stairs.

The pain or discomfort goes away with rest.

Other symptoms of the disease include poor nail growth, or decreased hair growth on toes and legs, sores or wounds that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all, and temperature or color differences between legs.

Once PAD is detected through the use of an ultrasound device that checks the blood pressure in your leg or arm, there are three main lines of treatment.

The first line of treatment is medical therapy which focuses on risk factor modification to reduce cardiovascular events, improving quality of life and survival.

The second line of treatment involves minimally invasive strategies such as balloon angioplasty, stenting and atherectomy. The third line of treatment involves surgical bypass of the arteries in the leg (or arm).

Treatment for PAD is always individualized and based on the severity of symptoms.

Physician Background:
Dr. Gregory Schnier is a vascular surgeon at Alamance Vein & Vascular Health and a member of the Alamance Regional medical staff.

Dr. Schnier received his Doctor of Medicine from Case Western Reserve University.

He completed a general surgery residency at University of Louisville and a vascular surgical fellowship at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.