PAD is a progressive condition. Symptoms may not appear until the condition has significantly progressed and complications appear. Over time, PAD may lead to:
Intermittent claudication is the most common symptom of PAD. Claudication is pain that occurs in the thigh, hip, calf, or foot while walking, using stairs, or exercising. The discomfort may consist of cramping, limping, or a feeling of heaviness, weakness, or fatigue. Symptoms of claudication usually begin after walking a certain distance, such as a block or two, and end after resting for the same length each time.
Other possible symptoms of PAD may include:
- Numbness of the legs or feet at rest
- Cold legs or feet
- Muscle pain in the thighs, calves, or feet
- Loss of hair on the lower extremities
- Poorly growing or thick toenails
- Paleness or blueness of the legs or feet
- Weak or absent pulse in the extremity
- Foot wounds that heal slowly
Plaque Blocking an Artery
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In people that have symptoms, PAD may cause:
PAD can lead to severe complications, such as:
Critical limb ischemia—Ulcers that are slow to heal because of low or blocked blood flow (ischemia). These ulcers can lead to gangrene. When the blood supply is cut off, the tissue does not get enough oxygen and begins to die. Gangrene can lead to amputation of the affected limb.
Functional decline—As PAD progresses, walking distance decreases, which can affect your quality of life.