What is PAD?
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a disease of the blood vessels in the limbs, most commonly the legs. PAD occurs when arteries become narrow or clogged, due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries", is a gradual process in which cholesterol, fat, and scar tissue build up on the walls of the arteries and form a plaque. This plaque narrows and clogs the arteries, restricting normal blood flow, and can eventually cause pain in the affected limb. While many people have mild or no symptoms, if left untreated, PAD can lead to critical limb ischemia (CLI), a serious form of the disease.
CLI symptoms can increase in severity from rest pain, to ulcers, to gangrene, eventually requiring amputation in some patients.