Medical Definition of Peripheral artery disease

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Peripheral artery disease: A form of peripheral vascular disease in which there is partial or total blockage of an artery, usually one leading to a leg or arm. Leg artery disease and arm artery disease are somewhat different.

Leg artery disease is usually due to atherosclerosis. Fatty deposits build up along artery walls and impair the blood circulation. The compromised blood flow affect the leg. Walking can bring on fatigue, cramping, and pain in the hip, buttock, thigh, knee, shin, or upper foot. This is called intermittent claudication. It is intermittent because it goes away with rest and then returns with exertion.

Arm artery disease is usually not due to atherosclerosis but to another condition such as an autoimmune disease, a blood clot, radiation therapy, Raynaud's disease, repetitive motion, and trauma. Common symptoms when the arm is in motion include discomfort, heaviness, tiredness, and cramping. Finger pain is another common symptom. Treatment depends on the cause.

Peripheral artery disease is abbreviated PAD.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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