Do You Have Risk Factors for Peripheral Arterial Disease?

At Beach Wellness MD, Dr. Ali Golshan is an expert in diagnosing and treating vascular conditions, including PAD. If you have

The arteries around your heart are your coronary arteries and the ones in your neck that supply blood to your brain are your carotid arteries. The others are your peripheral arteries, which can be affected by peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Most often, PAD affects the arteries that go to your legs and feet, but it can affect others as well.

At Beach Wellness MD, Dr. Ali Golshan is an expert in diagnosing and treating vascular conditions, including PAD. If you have any of the risk factors we describe below or you’ve noticed symptoms, contact us so we can help you identify lifestyle changes and treatments that can help you control your symptoms and slow or prevent worsening of the disease.

PAD occurs when a fatty substance called plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, the plaque causes your arteries to become stiff and narrow, which makes it more difficult for the blood to flow through them. 

This stiffness and narrowing of your arteries is called atherosclerosis, which can lead to other serious health problems. For example, if you have PAD, you may also have plaque buildup in your coronary arteries and a far higher risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Symptoms of PAD don’t often develop until there is severe blockage of your arteries. In fact, 50% of people with PAD don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptom is leg pain, also called claudication, when walking. You may feel an intense pain in your calf when you walk, severe enough that you have to stop. Other symptoms include:

What makes PAD more likely? 

Lifestyle factors have a large impact on the likelihood of you developing PAD and can help reduce your symptoms if you already have it. If not controlled, these factors can raise your risk of developing PAD. 

There are some risk factors outside of your control, like your race and your age. For example, African Americans are the racial or ethnic segment most affected by PAD in the United States. Other risk factors for PAD include: 

Your age

The older you are, the greater your risk of PAD. The rate of PAD in the general population is 10-15%, but in people older than 70, it’s 15-20%.

Smoking tobacco

Smoking raises your risk for a whole host of health issues, including certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. People who smoke are 2-6 times more likely to develop PAD than those who don’t smoke. Not only does smoking make it more likely you’ll develop PAD, it also makes the symptoms you feel worse. 


Untreated high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can put a strain on the arteries in your arms and legs. This strain can lead to narrowing of your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are narrowed from hypertension and you have plaque buildup, PAD is more likely. 


There are many reasons to control your blood sugar when you have diabetes. One key reason is that it can cause damage to the walls of your arteries, and that damage can make it easier for plaque to build up. 

High cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of naturally wax-like fat. Cholesterol in moderation is integral to the process of many bodily functions. If there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, though, it can contribute to the development of PAD. 

PAD treatment approaches

The first step in treating PAD is to make simple, healthy lifestyle changes. For example, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent PAD and can help ease the symptoms if it’s already developed. 

When lifestyle changes don’t relieve your symptoms or if your PAD has progressed too far for them to be effective, Dr. Golshan may recommend diagnostic studies, medication, or one of the following procedures: 

If you have pain in your calves when you walk, or you have the risk factors above, consider booking an appointment at Beach Wellness MD and let Dr. Golshan determine your risk of PAD. You can request an appointment online or simply give us a call

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