Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Amelia Heart & Vascular Center is a respected leader in vascular medicine serving the Northern Virginia area.

Peripheral artery disease is when blood vessels that take the oxygen rich blood to the legs are narrowed which reduces the amount of blood that flows to the legs. This condition can also reduce blood flow to the heart, brain, and lungs.


The main cause of peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is when plaque builds up on the blood vessel walls which will reduce blood flow.


Some people that have peripheral artery disease no symptoms while others may experience mild to severe symptoms. These symptoms include

  • Cramping in the hips
  • Leg weakness
  • Coldness in lower leg
  • Soreness in toes
  • Shiny skin on the legs
  • No pulse or weak pulse in the legs

Imaging and Diagnostics:

There are many ways for the doctor to diagnose peripheral artery disease. Below are tests that the doctor may ask the patient to make a proper diagnosis

  • Physical exam
  • Ankle-brachial index
  • Ultrasound
  • Angiography
  • Blood test


The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms and to stop the progression of plaque buildup in the arteries. The doctor may suggest these treatment options

  • Medication
  • Angioplasty
  • Surgery

Lifestyle Changes:

The doctor may suggest changes to the patient’s lifestyle to stop the progression of peripheral artery disease. Some of the suggestions the doctor may suggest include

  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid cold medication