Recognizing the Early Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease

It’s a simple fact of life that certain tasks and movements become harder as you age. Sometimes even the most mundane tasks become more difficult or painful. For example, you may not be able to turn your head as far or may need more time to get up from the couch. 

Perhaps most common among all of these later-life slowdowns is walking. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 15.7 million Americans over 65 have some kind of disability. And two-thirds of these seniors have issues with walking or general mobility. 

If you experience pain while walking, you may be suffering from peripheral artery disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease. Thankfully, this disease doesn’t have to be permanent and may be treated and eventually eradicated through treatment.  

Are you currently dealing with pain when walking that often dissipates after you get off your feet? If so, come see the team at Phoenix Heart. We were recently voted No. 1 in cardiology groups by Ranking Arizona magazine and we set the bar in cardiovascular care. Our medical team is dedicated to treating patients and their caregivers with the utmost respect, empathy, and professionalism. We are consistently at the forefront of adopting the newest and best technologies to advance the health of our patients.

When it comes to peripheral artery disease, early detection can help you get a head start on your road to recovery. Below, find out more about peripheral artery disease and how we detect and treat it.

What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease is a common circulatory problem in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs. This, in turn, effectively narrows your arteries and reduces the blood flow to the areas they serve. 

These areas don’t get enough blood to satisfy their demand, which causes painful symptoms. Although the disease can manifest in many parts of the body, most patients feel its effects most acutely in their legs.

A tricky diagnosis

Because leg pain is so common in older adults and seniors, the symptoms of peripheral artery disease are often mistaken for something else. In fact, the American Heart Association has found that it frequently goes undiagnosed by medical professionals. 

Despite this, people who suffer from this disease are at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke. If left untreated, peripheral artery disease can lead to gangrene and even amputation.

What causes peripheral artery disease?

The disease is most often caused by atherosclerosis, the name for the process of fatty plaque building up in the arteries. Common risk factors for peripheral artery disease include the following:

The disease can affect people of all races, but African Americans are at a much higher risk of developing it. Hispanic Americans also carry a slightly higher risk.


The best way to stop the progression of peripheral artery disease is through early recognition of its symptoms. The quicker you notice the disease, the quicker you can start treatment. Common symptoms may include:

A clear sign of peripheral artery disease is leg pain that is relieved when you’re at rest. This is because your legs require less blood when they’re not being actively used.


If there is a silver lining to all of this, it’s that lifestyle adjustments are often the best way to treat peripheral artery disease. When caught early, weight loss, ending tobacco usage, exercise, and improved eating and nutrition may be able to significantly improve your symptoms.

You can beat peripheral artery disease with early detection and treatment. Phoenix Heart can help. Call or request an appointment at one of our five Phoenix area offices today.





You Might Also Enjoy...

Heart Healthy Habits Every Woman Should Embrace

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, yet many women don’t know what they can do to protect their heart health. In this post, we review eight heart-healthy lifestyle changes you can make starting today.

How Pregnancy Impacts Your Cardiovascular System

Pregnancy is a time of rapid change — for you and for your developing baby. Some of those changes involve your cardiovascular system. Knowing how those changes occur can help you and your doctor spot problems early.

6 Symptoms of Mitral Regurgitation

Mitral regurgitation is a common heart valve problem with serious complications. Recognizing its symptoms can help you get treatment early, so you can prevent heart failure and other potential problems. Here are six symptoms you should know about.

How Diabetes Affects Your Heart Health

Both heart disease and diabetes affect millions of people — and some suffer from both diseases. Here’s how the two conditions are linked — and how we can help you keep your heart healthy if you have diabetes.

Help! I'm Struggling to Lose Weight

Weight loss may not be easy, but it is extremely important for keeping your heart healthy (and the rest of your body, too). If your weight-loss journey has been filled with potholes and detours, medical weight loss can help. Here’s how.

3 Common Vein Problems

Your veins play an essential role in healthy circulation, so it’s no surprise that even common vein problems can have serious consequences. Here are three common vein issues you need to know about.