There are many ways peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, can affect a person’s quality of life. Some might be minor inconveniences, while others – such as amputation – can severely affect a person’s lifestyle.

In the more severe stages of PAD – such as critical limb ischemia, sometimes also called CLI – amputation of a toe, foot or leg is a reality many people face.4

People with PAD who are at risk for amputation may have treatment options. One option, called revascularization, has shown it can help save the toes, feet and legs of many patients with CLI. It can effectively be performed as a minimally invasive procedure, called endovascular surgery. In this procedure, doctors restore blood flow to the feet and legs to help wounds heal.

The increased use of revascularization treatments in recent years has helped reduce the number of major amputations in people with CLI.20 Treatment options are constantly advancing, and today’s techniques to treat PAD are very different than they were just five years ago.

Without treatment, the likelihood of amputation for patients with CLI can be very high. And once an amputation occurs, a patient’s overall health can rapidly decline. A strong link exists between amputation for PAD or CLI and putting a person’s life at risk.25

Research shows that people with PAD or CLI were twice as likely to die within a year of a lower leg amputation than people who were able to avoid amputation.  Several health factors can contribute to PAD-related amputation being life threatening, including advanced age, heart failure, kidney disease and cancer.25

However, if patients with advanced PAD can avoid amputation, they just might live longer. Medical efforts to save legs and feet have been shown to offer advantages when compared to amputation.17

Not all doctors are PAD specialists – and not all PAD specialists use the most modern treatment techniques – so it is important to ask for a second opinion if a doctor has suggested that you need an amputation.

Some health care professionals, hospitals or wound care centers have created programs specifically for PAD with the goal of saving more legs. These centers often have several physicians from different specialty groups working together to identify patients with PAD and CLI and to offer them treatment options to try to avoid amputation.20

Health care professionals coordinate a patient’s care among multiple specialties, including primary care physicians, infectious disease specialists, podiatrists, orthopedic specialists, vascular medicine specialists, as well as wound care and orthotics specialists. These teams sometimes specialize in treating patients with severe PAD or CLI.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one might have PAD or CLI, do not wait – talk to a health care professional about your symptoms and treatment options. You can use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a PAD specialist near you.