Learn about the risk factors
If you’re concerned about peripheral artery disease (PAD) but aren’t sure what you can do, start by talking to your doctor about your risk factors for PAD. Click here for a list of questions to help guide your conversation. Common risk factors include smoking, diabetes, aging, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and kidney disease. It’s important to learn more about these risk factors for the disease, but only a health care professional can diagnose you with PAD.
Major risk factors
Smoking is a powerful predictor of PAD37 and an important risk factor for the development of plaque in your arteries (atherosclerosis)19 – a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. Diabetes is another risk factor that can cause problems in your legs and feet, which might be PAD.21 Patients with PAD and diabetes are more likely to have their lives at risk when compared with healthy individuals.19
Advanced age also is a risk factor of PAD. The older you are, the higher your risk for the disease. One in 20 Americans over age 50 have PAD.8 In addition to their PAD, many people have several other health issues they’re dealing with, such as kidney disease.38 Having this PAD risk factor has been linked to higher rates of advanced stages of PAD, called critical limb ischemia (CLI), and amputation.25 If you fall into any of these risk categories and are experiencing symptoms of PAD, talk to your health care professional right away. Your condition might be worse than you realize, and the earlier you seek diagnosis and treatment, the better.
Lin knows she needs help, but it has to be her way
Lin stopped trying to hide her painful walking problem a long time ago. And the pain in her leg is so bad at night that her only hope for rest is to sleep in a chair. She wants relief but is worried that her doctor will send her to the hospital. Lin’s condition could be worse than it appears. She might be suffering from advanced stages of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is the result of narrowed, hardened arteries in the legs. PAD limits blood flow to the legs and feet, leading to symptoms including severe pain while walking. If left untreated, things can get rapidly worse. She could develop wounds that won’t heal and the possibility that her disease could lead to having her leg amputated.9 Lin is ready to get treatment, but she’s still wary of being sent to the hospital. The good news is that many minimally invasive endovascular procedures are able to be performed outside a traditional hospital setting – in a PAD specialist’s clinic instead. Lin will appreciate the convenience and comfort of being evaluated and treated in an office or a specialty clinic. Does this sound familiar? If you have pain while walking, learn more about other symptoms of PAD and share your concerns with a health care professional. Lin is not an actual patient. Her story is intended to represent part of the population with PAD. Symptoms, treatment options and outcomes may vary.
Talk to Your Doctor
Only a health care professional can diagnose you with PAD. Our Risk Factor Quiz can help guide the conversation about your treatment options.
Take the Risk Factor Quiz
Click below to take the interactive Risk Factor Quiz. You can print your answers out and take them with you to a doctor to help guide your conversation about PAD.