There are multiple stages of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
At its earliest, you might not experience any symptoms of the disease. But as PAD progresses, the blood flow to your legs and feet can become increasingly restricted and you may start feeling symptoms of PAD, which as the disease progresses may get worse. A physician may diagnose you with critical limb ischemia (CLI) – the worst form of PAD.59
Regardless of what stage your PAD is, it’s important to know you have treatment options. If you’re concerned about your condition, don’t wait to talk to a doctor.
Treatments can include diet changes and exercise for early stages of PAD. In advanced PAD, or CLI, a physician may recommend medications, and/or a minimally invasive procedure. Left untreated, PAD can lead to amputation of a toe, foot or leg.
- In the earliest stages of PAD, you may not experience any symptoms at all or you might experience pain in your feet and legs while walking. If you are diagnosed with the disease at this stage, a doctor may recommend long-lasting lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet or getting regular exercise. Your doctor also may prescribe medications to lower high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure; prevent formation of blood clots; to improve mobility and decrease pain while walking.
- If the PAD has progressed to an advanced form, you may have increased pain while walking or even while resting. You may also experience wounds that won’t heal, tissue loss and gangrene on your feet and legs. A doctor may recommend minimally invasive treatment such as angioplasty or atherectomy. These treatments are known as “endovascular,” meaning that they are performed inside of your blood vessels.
- In some cases of advanced PAD, your health care provider may recommend arterial bypass surgery. It’s a commonly used technique to re-route your arteries around a blockage.35
- A doctor also may suggest amputation. Each year, 160,000 to 180,000 Americans undergo amputation of a limb as result of complications associated with PAD.3
There have been a lot of advances in the treatment of PAD in recent years. Not all physicians are aware of all of the treatment options. If your doctor has recommended bypass surgery or amputation, you might want a second opinion from a PAD specialist.4
Only a health care professional can determine if you have PAD and what stage you have. Learn more about the symptoms of PAD and how the disease progresses on our website. Don’t wait to discuss your risk factors and symptoms with a PAD specialist – early detection could make a big difference.