How to Spot the Early Warning Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
February 27, 2024

Vein and arterial issues can be incredibly difficult for those afflicted, and some can even be life-threatening. One such condition is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which affects up to 12 million adults in the United States and 200 million worldwide. This is why it is important for people to understand the signs and symptoms, as it will allow them to seek treatment quickly. Peripheral artery disease indicates an issue with circulation and heart function, and it increases the risk of severe consequences, including heart attack, stroke, or limb amputation. 

Continue below to learn more about peripheral artery disease and its early warning signs. 

Look Out for Early Signs and Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms

Some of those who develop PAD may not have any symptoms, especially in the early stages of the condition. In fact, some people may not even develop symptoms until  As symptoms develop, one of the earliest signs is pain, cramping, or discomfort in the legs, calves, hips, or buttocks. 

This typically occurs during activities like walking or exercise and goes away while resting. As the condition worsens, additional symptoms could include:

  • Aching or burning in the feet, especially during activity
  • Cool skin on the feet
  • Slow healing sores on the legs or feet
  • Feet or leg skin color changes
  • More frequent infections on lower extremities
  • Erectile dysfunction due to blood flow issues
  • Slow growth of toenails and leg hair

Certain risk factors increase a person's chance of developing PAD. Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor, as 80% of those with the condition are smokers or ex-smokers, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Additionally, they say that tobacco use increases the risk of PAD by 400%. Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Age 50 or older
  • African American genealogy
  • Family history of heart or blood vessel disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Kidney disease

Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment 

Fortunately, there are peripheral artery disease treatment options, including lifestyle changes, medications, and medical procedures. Some studies have shown that PAD symptoms can be reversed through exercise, as well as controlling cholesterol and blood pressure. 

This may not always be possible, but lifestyle changes and treatment can minimally stop peripheral arterial disease from getting worse. Beneficial lifestyle changes include:

  • Quit Smoking: Ceasing the use of tobacco products.
  • Diet: Eating a balanced diet of low cholesterol, fat, and sodium, as well as high in fiber.
  • Exercise: Starting a walking program can help treat PAD.
  • Manage Health Conditions: Properly managing additional health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
  • Stress Management: Reduce and manage stress, which could be done through exercise, meditation, yoga, or other methods.


Certain medications may be used as part of treating PAD. This includes medications for co-occurring conditions like antihypertensives for blood pressure, statin medications for high cholesterol, and more. Treating these other conditions helps to mitigate and treat the risk factors of PAD. 

Additionally, a doctor may prescribe antiplatelet medications like aspirin, clopidogrel, or cilostazol to improve walking distance. 

Procedures for Treating PAD

Medical procedures may be recommended when PAD becomes advanced or is causing significant pain or mobility issues. These include:

  • Angioplasty
  • Atherectomy
  • Stents
  • Peripheral artery bypass surgery

South Valley Vascular is Here to Help Those Struggling with Peripheral Artery Disease

If you are struggling with PAD or experiencing symptoms like the above, South Valley Vascular can help. We are experts in vascular treatments and have helped thousands of people with their conditions, and we would like to do the same for you. If you have any questions, you can fill out the contact form on our website or call us at 559-625-4118.