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PAD occurs when atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, causes a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues of the body. As these plaques worsen, they reduce essential blood flow to the limbs and can even cause complete blockages of the arteries.

Early on, PAD may only cause difficulty walking, but in its most severe forms it can cause painful foot ulcers, infections and even gangrene, which could require amputation. People with PAD are also more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes.

Who’s At Risk
You may be at a greater risk for developing PAD if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, if you smoke or have a family history of vascular disease. Men are also more likely than women to have PAD.

Symptoms to Look For
Symptoms of PAD include pain in the muscles of the legs during walking or other exercise, pain in the ball of the foot or toes, ulcers or sores on the foot, ankle or toes that will not heal, or blue or black discoloration of the toes. PAD can be treated in a variety of ways depending on its severity, including lifestyle changes, medicines, balloon angioplasties and stenting or surgical procedures.

For more information or to make an appointment with The Vascular Center at UM BWMC, call 410-553-8300.