Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – a condition that raises your risk for heart attack and stroke – affects one in every 20 Americans over the age of 50. It occurs when cholesterol and other fats in your blood create buildup – called plaque – on your artery walls. This causes a narrowing of your arteries, which can reduce or block blood flow. PAD most commonly occurs in the legs, and it often goes undiagnosed. Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve your mobility and quality of your life and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke or leg amputation.
To check for PAD, your provider will take a medical and family history, perform a physical exam and conduct diagnostic tests. The physical exam will include checking the pulses in your legs and feet to determine if there is enough blood flowing to these areas, checking the color, temperature and appearance of your legs and feet, and looking for signs of poor wound healing on the legs and feet. A simple diagnostic test called an Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) – which compares the blood pressure readings in your ankles and arms – may be performed to help determine if you have PAD.