PAD Decreases Blood Flow in Legs

Peripheral arterial disease, also called PAD, occurs when blood vessels in the legs are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits. Blood flow to your feet and legs decreases and you have an increased risk for heart attack, stroke or an amputation of a lower limb.
Many people with PAD do not have any symptoms. Some people may experience mild leg pain or trouble walking and believe that it’s just a sign of getting older.

Others may have the following symptoms:

  • leg pain, particularly when walking or exercising, which disappears after a few minutes of rest
  • numbness, tingling, or coldness in the lower legs or feet
  • sores or infections on your feet or legs that heal slowly

The ankle brachial index (ABI) is a quick and painless test used to diagnose PAD. This test compares the blood pressure in your ankle to the blood pressure in your arm. If the blood pressure in the lower part of your leg is lower than the pressure in your arm, you may have PAD.

An expert panel brought together by the American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes over the age of 50 have an ABI to test for PAD. People with diabetes younger than 50 may benefit from testing if they have other PAD risk factors.

These other tests can also be used to diagnosis PAD:

  • Angiography-MRA and CTA
  • Ultrasound
  • Lower extremity arterial noninvasive physiologic study