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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Get Screened for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)


By Rashad Belin, MD, PhD, FACC, RPVI / Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist at Mercyhealth


Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that results from narrowing or blockage in arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs or arms due to fatty plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). PAD most commonly affects the arteries that carry blood to the legs.


PAD is actually very common and affects over 10 million people in the United States. However, due to non-diagnosis, many of us believe the actual number of Americans affected by PAD is considerably higher.


PAD is associated with increased rates of limb amputation and death. Individuals who are older (over age 65), smoke, or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes are much more likely to develop PAD. PAD is most commonly diagnosed by an ankle-brachial index (ABI), which is the ratio of the blood pressure at the ankle to the blood pressure at the upper arm. The ABI is a quick, simple, and non-invasive way to diagnose PAD. An ABI less than 0.9 is diagnostic for PAD.


The most common symptom of PAD is intermittent claudication (cramping pain or fatigue in the legs due to exertion that is relieved by rest). The pain can occur in the buttocks, thighs or calves. So, if you have symptoms, are over the age of 50 with diabetes or smoking history, or are over the age of 65, you should undergo an ABI to determine if you have PAD. Diagnosing PAD early will improve your quality of life and decrease the likelihood of limb amputation and death.


Please speak with your primary care doctor about undergoing a test to determine if you have PAD.


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