Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment on the NHS


Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common circulatory condition that affects around 1 in 5 people over the age of 60. With PAD, fatty deposits build up in artery walls over time, causing hardening and narrowing of arteries in the legs and arms. This restricts blood flow to limbs and other extremities. PAD ranges in severity but can greatly impact mobility and quality of life without proper management. Getting familiar with PAD risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and current NHS treatment options allows for better understanding of what patients face in coping with the disease.

Signs and Symptoms of PAD

The most common PAD symptoms stem from poor blood circulation and include:

Calf Pain or Cramping Numbness or Weakness in Legs/Feet Coldness in Lower Extremities
Leg Ulcers or Sores Changes in Foot/Toe Color Erectile Dysfunction Fatigue with Exertion

However, about 1 in 3 people show no signs despite having PAD. Finding PAD early on though can lower chances of related cardiovascular conditions down the road.

Getting Diagnosed with PAD via the NHS If PAD symptoms sound familiar, start by visiting your NHS GP. They can examine your legs and feet for signs of poor circulation. Also expect questions on medical history and PAD risk factors like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and coronary artery disease.

Common PAD Diagnostic Tests Available on the NHS:

Ankle Brachial Pressure Index Blood Tests Ultrasound Doppler Imaging CT or MR Angiography Arteriography Treadmill Tests

Treatment and Management of PAD with the NHS
The NHS takes a stepped approach when treating PAD patients. Lifestyle changes and medication come first before considering surgery or procedures for severe cases.

Lifestyle Changes – Smoking cessation, healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management all help reduce PAD progression. Compression stockings can also aid leg circulation.

Medications – Drugs that prevent blood clotting are often prescribed first. Cholesterol and high blood pressure medications may follow to support cardiovascular health.

Procedures and Surgery – For advanced PAD, procedures like angioplasty or vascular bypass provide immediate blood flow restoration. Amputation is a last resort for untreatable critical limb ischemia.


UK healthcare services like the NHS provide essential care in managing Peripheral Artery Disease severity. Being informed on PAD signs, diagnosis options, and current treatment standards allows for meaningful discussion with your care team. Pay special attention to recommended lifestyle changes as well for optimal health beyond clinical visits. Combining vigilant self-care with NHS expertise and oversight gives PAD patients the best ability to thrive.

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