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Peripheral artery disease

What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that causes blockages in the arteries located away from the heart, most often in the legs and neck. The risk of developing this disease increases with age; indeed, PAD is more common in people over 60. It can also affect other arteries such as those in the intestines and kidneys.

What causes PAD?

Atherosclerosis is the main cause of PAD. Arteries become narrowed, hardened and blocked. This usually happens gradually, beginning with partial narrowing, which is called stenosis. Over time, a blood clot can suddenly form in the artery, a condition called thrombosis. The flow of blood to the extremities and organs becomes thus severely restricted, or even completely stopped.

PAD is linked to other diseases and risk factors, i.e., conditions that increase the possibility that a person will develop a disease. Sometimes the risk is genetic, but very often it is related to lifestyle habits that can and should be changed.


Aside from age, the four main risk factors for PAD are:
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Other risk factors for PAD include:
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diet high in sugar and fats (ex., fast food)