Peripheral artery disease (PAD) happens when fat and cholesterol, also called plaque, build up in the walls of the arteries in your limbs – most often the legs. This buildup can cause the arteries to become stiff and narrow so not enough blood flows to your arms and legs.
PAD also can cause you to suddenly lose blood supply in your limbs. This is like a heart attack in your leg. If not treated quickly, it can cause you to have surgery to remove your leg, or even death.
The risk factors for developing PAD are similar to those for coronary artery disease (CAD). Many people who have PAD either have diabetes or have smoked, or both.
Other risk factors for developing PAD include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and family history of PAD. As we age, the chance of having PAD also increases.