PAD affects millions of older adults in the U.S. Despite how relatively common it is, not many people know much about it or realize how much of a health threat it is. In one telephone survey of 2500 adults aged 50 or older, only 26% were familiar with PAD compared with 65% for coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Only 14% knew that PAD could lead to amputation and only 25% understood the connection between PAD and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. This lack of PAD awareness results in many undiagnosed cases.

What is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)?

PAD is the narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body including the legs. The most common form, lower extremity PAD, is primarily caused by the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Symptoms of PAD include:

• Pain, aches, cramps, or weakness in the legs, hips, glutes, or calves when walking or doing other physical activity (sometimes these symptoms exist
when not exercising)
• Feet feeling cold, weak, or numb
• Change of appearance in lower extremities including shiny skin color, hair loss, and slower rate of toenail growth.
• A non-healing wound


Ways to Prevent PAD

• Stay active
• Do not smoke
• Manage diabetes, cholesterol, and diabetes.
• Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
• Make regular appointments with your healthcare professionals.

If you would like to learn more, or have any concerns about PAD, please contact us. First Coast Cardiovascular Institute’s accredited vascular lab offers comprehensive testing.

Lower Extremity Physiological Testing

We can perform a lower extremity arterial physiologic study which determines whether PAD is present, what vessels are affected, and how severely blood flow is impaired. This test uses ultrasound imaging to evaluate blood flow in the arms and legs according to pressure measurements and pulse volume recordings (PVRs). Lower extremity testing also includes the ankle/brachial index (ABI) test, which measures the severity of PAD by reporting the ratio of ankle pressure to arm pressure.

How PAD is Treated

A timely diagnosis is important. If diagnosed, treatment options may include a change in diet, exercise, medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, minimally invasive procedures, and surgery.






Resources: American Heart Association, CDC, The Mayo Clinic,

Originally Published in: THE HEART OF JACKSONVILLE | Issue 12 2024