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Diagnosis & Treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease

If you have poor circulation in your legs, it could be Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). It’s important to talk to your doctor about getting tested for PAD as early as possible.

Since many people with PAD have no symptoms, you may not notice any warning signs. If you have any of the risk factors for PAD, or actually are feeling symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

The Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease

In diagnosing PAD, your doctor may give you a physical examination. There are also tests available. These tests may be done at your doctor’s office or you may be referred to an outside facility.

One test that’s often used is called an Ankle-Brachial Index (A.B.I.). The diagnosis of PAD is based on a comparison of the blood pressure readings from your arms and ankles. The whole test takes about 10 minutes.

The A.B.I. can be an important tool for doctors. It helps them diagnose PAD in many patients who don’t have any symptoms, but who are at a high risk for a heart attack or stroke. In fact, about half the cases of PAD may be overlooked if based on symptoms alone. The A.B.I. has also been recommended as a routine evaluation for people over 50 with diabetes.

Treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease

If you have been diagnosed with PAD — whether or not you have symptoms — you need to work with your doctor to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. This is the time to explore all your treatment options to help reduce that risk, including medications. And, together with your doctor come up with the appropriate treatment regimen that’s right for you.

Your doctor may also recommend certain modifications to your lifestyle as part of your treatment plan. These might include an exercise program, a healthier diet, and quitting smoking.

Changes to these aspects of your life can have a positive effect on your overall cardiovascular health and may help reduce your risk for a future heart attack or stroke.

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Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen or making changes to your diet. Together, you can create a program that works well for you.

Learn the Best Ways to Round Out Your Treatment Plan

Ask your doctor about adopting a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Follow all your physician’s recommendations
Diagnosis & Treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease

Michael Bengston, M.D.

APA Reference
Bengston, M. (2020). Diagnosis & Treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.