Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?


Peripheral Arterial Disease is sometimes referred to as PAD.  It often is associated with poor circulation and occurs when there is a thickening of the arteries that deliver blood from the heart to a patient’s legs, arms and brain. The thickening is caused by plaque. 

“Plaque is a buildup of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous products and other components in the blood that can layer the inside lining of the artery and narrow down the lumen,” noted Dr. Lewis Owens, a vascular surgeon at Sentara Martha Jefferson Vascular and Vein Center. 

Dr. Owens stresses that early warning signs of PAD should not be ignored. 

“Diminished hair distribution in their legs, their skin could be shiny, their feet may be cooler than their hands or their arms, they may find their legs become more fatigued or achy with activity levels,” noted Dr. Owens.  “These are all warning signs that there may be an issue.” 

Doctors say if they can catch symptoms early enough they can then help educate patients to make lifestyle changes that can help control the disease.  If patients have early warning signs, they should stop smoking, manage high blood pressure, manage high cholesterol and get active!  All of these things help slow the progression of PAD. 

“In serious cases, sometimes the body can’t manage this condition itself, so you have to do mechanical or interventional procedures to improve the circulation in someone’s extremities,” said Dr. Owens. 

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. 

If you have questions about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com. 

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

Do you have health questions? Get the answers every Monday morning from the experts in our feature: Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

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