Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about peripheral artery disease (PAD) below. Learn more about when to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and what treatment options are available to avoid preventable risk factors and ease symptoms. 

For more information, call 773-878-8200, ext. 7321

What diagnoses are commonly covered under peripheral artery disease rehab?

Patients appropriate for peripheral artery disease rehabilitation exhibit the following:

  • Native arteries of extremities with intermittent claudication
  • Unspecified type of bypass graft(s) of the extremities with intermittent claudication
  • Nonbiological bypass graft(s) of the extremities with intermittent claudication
  • Other type of bypass graft(s) of the extremities with intermittent claudication

What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease refers to a decrease in blood flow to the extremities due to a narrowing of the arteries. Symptoms include:

  • Pain, cramping or achiness in the lower extremities when exercising, including everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs (intermittent claudication)
  • Feeling coldness or numbness in the legs and feet
  • Loss of hair on the arms or legs
  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Brittle or easily-broken toe or fingernails

What is the treatment for peripheral artery disease?

The goal in treating peripheral artery disease is to help manage symptoms associated with the disease while also helping prevent limb loss. Treatment may include a combination of the following:

  • Blood-thinning or artery-widening medications
  • Angioplasty or bypass surgery
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) rehabilitation

How do physicians test for peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease can be accurately diagnosed minimally invasively through blood pressure measurements in the arms and legs (ankle-brachial index, or ABI) and/or ultrasound. 

What are the causes of peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease is most often caused by plaque building up in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Certain lifestyle behaviors can increase the risk of developing peripheral artery disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

What are the risk factors of peripheral artery disease?

Risk factors for high blood pressure include both natural contributing factors, such as aging, as well as lifestyle choices or unhealthy habits, including smoking.   

Can peripheral artery disease be treated with surgery?

In certain cases, peripheral artery disease can be treated with angioplasty (opening the clogged artery using a stent) or bypass surgery (diverting blood flow around a clogged artery using either another natural pathway or a synthetic tube). 

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For more information, call 773-878-8200, ext. 7321

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