Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Do you experience leg pain when walking or climbing? This pain in your calf or buttock could be caused by peripheral arterial disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease.

PAD causes your muscles to cramp during activity because of reduced blood flow to your lower body. Having diseased arteries in one area of the body often means that arteries in other areas of the body are narrow too. So if you have PAD and it's not treated, you have a much greater risk of:

  • Poor wound healing
  • Pain
  • Loss of mobility
  • Amputation
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

That's why it's so important to tell your doctor if you have symptom so you can be evaluated and begin treatment.

Treatments to improve your PAD

For most people with PAD, lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking and eating a healthier diet along with medications and a prescribed exercise program will greatly improve walking and quality of life.

If you have severe blockages or noninvasive treatments are unable to improve your symptoms significantly, surgery may be recommended:

  • Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed arteries. A stent may be placed to prevent the artery from closing again.
  • Bypass Surgery may be needed if your symptoms worsen and the blockage can't be treated with angioplasty. The surgeon makes a path around the artery blockage with a graft, made from either one of your veins or a man-made (synthetic) graft. This allows the blood to bypass the blockage altogether.

PAD and AAA screening

The risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is higher if you:

  • Are over age 55
  • Smoke
  • Have a family history
  • Are overweight
  • Lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • Have high blood pressure, cholesterol and/or blood sugar (diabetes)

If you're at risk, talk with your doctor about being screened. These tests are typically not covered by insurance but they're important for those at risk, so we offer both quick, painless evaluations for one low price of just $100.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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