Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a term for a common circulatory problem.  PAD is caused by a narrowing or occlusion (blockage) in an artery.  Mr JK (Kes) Wicks and Dr Lupe Taumeopeau our two vascular surgeons are specialists in PAD.  We ask their specialist vascular nurse what you need to know.

What is an artery?

An artery is a ‘blood vessel’ that carries blood from your heart to your organs, brain and limbs. 

What causes narrowing or occlusion?  

Atherosclerotic plaques found inside the artery wall.  Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue.  PAD usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it can affect arteries that carry blood to your brain, vital organs and arms. 

What are the symptoms?

When you develop PAD your extremities (most often legs) don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with the demand.  Many people have mild or no symptoms, some people may have leg pain on walking – this is called claudication.  Other symptoms include:

  • Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf – after walking or climbing stairs
  • Coldness in your lower leg or feet
  • Injuries that won’t heal in your feet
  • Shiny skin on your legs
  • Weak or no pulses in your legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

What are the risk factors?

  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Increasing age
  • High homocysteine

Is PAD treatable?

Yes. Our two vascular surgeons are specialists in diagnosing and treating PAD.

What will happen if I don’t seek medical help?

PAD is caused by a buildup of plaque in your arteries.  You are at risk of developing critical limb ischemia, stroke or a heart attack.

How is PAD diagnosed by a SVH surgeon?

How can PAD be treated?

Can I be screened if I have risk factors but no symptoms?

Yes.  If you are over 70 or over 50 with diabetes or a history of smoking.  People who have these two risk factors are most at risk of developing PAD.

When should I see a SVH surgeon?

  • Your GP can refer you or we do accept patients directly referring themselves.  
  • If you have pain or numbness or any other symptoms don’t ignore them as part of normal aging.   

What will happen when I have booked to see a SVH surgeon?

  • We have developed a 3 stage arterial pathway which includes
  •  Consultation
  • Diagnosis – We will book you for the appropriate scan(s) at our SVH ultrasound lab.
  • Treatment – recommendations and a plan will be made with you after diagnosis is completed.