The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease is pain and cramping in the legs, called intermittent claudication. If your legs cramp after walking short distances, your doctor may want to look for disease in the arteries that supply your legs. The physical exam usually consists of looking at your feet and feeling for pulses in your legs and feet. You may be referred for Doppler ultrasonography or arteriography if your pulses are weak or absent. You will probably also be evaluated for accompanying problems such as diabetes,
high blood pressure
elevated levels of cholesterol and other blood fats
—This is a small device that can detect blood flow using sound waves. The test is fast, painless, and harmless. This test may be done in a vascular lab at a hospital or in a vascular surgeon's office.
—These x-rays are taken while dye is being injected directly into the arteries. The x-rays can show if and where blockages are located in the arteries.
This test is invasive and is usually only done in severe cases of PAD or before surgery to locate the blockages for the surgeon.
—Your doctor will review your blood fats and/or your blood sugar. If either is elevated, it may be a treatable cause of PAD.
Braunwald E, Fauci AS, eds.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine
. 16th ed. McGraw-Hill Professional; 2004.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a