St. Joseph Hospital of Orange
1100 West Stewart Dr, Orange, CA 92868714.633.9111
About Us News Room Careers Contact Us
Find St. Joseph Hospital Services Our Doctors Our Services For Patients For Visitors For Community
Heart and Vascular Center
About Us
Outcomes
Clinical Trials and Research Program
How to Contact Us
Our Achievements
Our Experts
Our Facilities
Patient Testimonials
Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program
Our Experts
Our Outcomes
Bacterial Endocarditis
Diagnosis
Patient and Family Resources
Patient Testimonial
Specific Congenital Cardiovascular Defects
Symptoms
Treatment
Cardiac Receiving Center
Clinical Trials and Research Program
The Center for Heart and Vascular Wellness and Prevention
About Us
Our Experts
The Dick Butkus Heart and Vascular Screening Program
The Women's Heart Center
Cardiac Rehabilitation
Diagnostic Services
Angiogram
Cardiovascular CT
Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac MRI
Echocardiogram
Stress Test / Treadmill
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
Electrophysiology Test (EP)
Endomyocardial Biopsy
Holter Monitor
Nuclear Studies
Pacemaker Interrogation
Tilt Table
Heart and Vascular Diseases
Arrhythmia
Aneurysm
Angina
Atrial Fibrillation
Cardiomyopathy
Chest Pain
Claudication
Congenital Heart Disease
Coronary Artery Disease
Diabetes
Endocarditis
Hypertension
Heart Attack
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Heart Failure
Rheumatic Heart Disease
Sinus Bradycardia
Ventricular Tachycardia
Heart Failure Program
Our Experts
Our Outcomes
Patient and Family Resources
Diagnosis
Treatment
Interventional Radiology
Our Experts
Our Outcomes
Patient and Family Resources
Interventional Radiology Procedures
Aortic Aneurysms
Carotid Artery Stenosis
Cerebral Artery Aneurysm
Chemoembolization for Liver Tumor
Deep Vein Thrombosis (Thrombolysis)
Peripheral Artery Disease
Stroke
Uterine Fibroid Emolization
Open Heart Surgery
Our Experts
Our Outcomes
Patient and Family Resources
Specific Cardiac Defects
Diagnosis
Preparing for Surgery
The Day of Surgery
Activity after Surgery
Preparing for Home - Discharge Teaching
Pacemaker Center
FAQs
Screening Programs
Valve Heart Center
Our Experts
Our Outcomes
Specific Cardiac Defects
Diagnosis
Treatment
Vascular Care
Our Experts
Our Screening Program
Specific Vascular Defects
Glossary of Terms
Women's Heart Center
About the Women's Heart Center
Our Experts
Risk Factors for Women
EBCT
Screening Program

Share this page:

Facebook
Twitter
Google +

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a term that is commonly used to describe vascular disease affecting arterial blood vessels of the lower extremities. It is a chronic inflammatory condition in the walls of arteries, in large part due to deposits of lipoproteins (plasma proteins that carry cholesterol and triglycerides). It is often referred to as a "hardening" of the arteries or atherosclerosis and is heralded by ischemic symptoms caused by a narrowing or blockage in the arteries.

Mention blocked arteries and most people think of the heart. However, these blockages can affect other areas of your body, especially blood vessels in the abdomen, kidneys, legs, neck and brain. Atherosclerosis can lead to a range of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, crippling leg pain, heart attack, stroke, aneurysms and even kidney failure. Millions of Americans over the age of 50 have PAD and the prevalence of this condition increases as people age.

The following risk factors are associated with PAD:

  • Age 50 years or older
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • A family history of heart disease or PAD

PAD Symptoms

When a blood vessel is clogged, smaller blood vessels try to compensate by rerouting blood around the clog. This will eventually fail, however, because these "detours" simply cannot carry as much blood as the larger blood vessel. Starved of oxygen-rich blood, the muscles almost literally cry out in pain. Symptoms of PAD include:

  • Calf pain (e.g., claudication) - usually starts after a period of walking and is relieved by a short period of rest
  • Thigh or buttock pain – occurs when the arterial blockages are present above the groin level in addition to the mid-thigh level, which is typically associated with calf pain as described above
  • Impotence
  • Feet that are cold to the touch, with toes that may appear discolored or bluish when dangling
  • Weak or absent pulse in the lower extremities
  • Limb-threatening Ischemia

If arterial narrowing or blockages increase in number and severity then the following can occur: rest pain (pain in the forefoot at night that wakes one up from sleep), non-healing ulcers or gangrene, usually at the foot level. Although not as common as claudication, severe complications can result when the lower extremities are continuously starved of oxygen-rich blood. If left untreated, limb-threatening ischemia can lead to the amputation of the toes or feet. Screening is therefore important to identify patients with PAD before the occurrence of more serious complications.

PAD Screening and Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by taking your medical history and performing diagnostic tests to determine how well blood flows through your vessels. The St. Joseph Hospital Vascular Institute offers simple, low-cost screenings for the early detection of PAD. To schedule a screening please call 1-877-VASC123 (1-877-827-2123).

Treatment

The most common complaint of people with PAD is “claudication”. Claudication is pain in the calf or thigh muscle that occurs after you have walked a certain distance. The pain stops after rest. Claudication occurs because not enough blood is flowing to the muscle. Physicians may order a test to check the blood flow to the leg. This can be done by using an ultrasound scan called a Doppler study and is usually performed in the outpatient area of the Vascular Institute. If surgery or a lesser invasive treatment by the Interventional Radiologist might help treat the symptoms of claudication, an angiogram will be recommended. This is an x-ray taken after dye is injected into an artery. The dye study may show narrowing in the artery and provide a map for the surgeon who will do the surgery or for the Interventional Radiologist who will do an angioplasty and possibly a stent to keep the narrowed area open. Angioplasty is the process of opening up the narrowed artery by placing a thin tube, called a catheter, into the narrowed artery. A stent is a small wire mesh tube that is left in the artery after the angioplasty catheter is removed. Angioplasty and stent placement is done in the Interventional Radiology department, using intravenous medication to make our patients “sleepy and relaxed”. Typical recovery for the procedure is less than 24 hours, usually allowing patients to return home six hours after their procedure.

Outcomes

Although angioplasty and stenting for the treatment of PAD opens up arteries and keeps the blood flowing, it does not stop plaque from building up. Patients are encouraged to consider lifestyle changes to decrease the risk factors contributing to atherosclerosis and to have follow-up by their primary physicians and /or Vascular Institute physician if symptoms reoccur. This includes diet control, regular exercise, maintaining ideal body weight, smoking cessation and recommendations to control cholesterol levels and/or blood sugar levels for diabetic patients.