Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when not enough blood reaches the legs, thighs, buttocks, or arms because of blocked or narrowed arteries. Patients with PAD may have legs that hurt or cramp, or their legs may become weak when walking or climbing hills or stairs. PAD is the most common form of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and its diagnosis indicates a higher-than-normal risk of coronary disease.
At UNC, our vascular specialists approach every case of PAD individually. Whenever possible, patients will be prescribed lifestyle changes first, including an exercise program, anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin or Plavix, and assistance quitting smoking. Because diabetes is also a significant risk factor for the worsening of PAD, vascular specialists may also consult with, or refer patients to, the UNC Diabetes Care Center for help getting their diabetes optimally managed. Patients may also be referred to a cardiologist at UNC because of the increased risk of narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart.