Peripheral Vascular/Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Vascular/Artery Disease (PAD)

This refers to diseases of blood vessels outside the heart and brain. It's often a narrowing of vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys.

Most people with PAD can be treated with lifestyle changes, medications or both. In a minority of patients angioplasty or surgery may be necessary.

Angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure that can be used to dilate (widen) narrowed or blocked peripheral arteries. A thin tube called a catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is passed into the narrowed artery segment. Then the balloon is deflated and the catheter is withdrawn. Often a stent — a cylindrical, wire mesh tube — is placed in the narrowed artery with a catheter. There the stent expands and locks open. It stays in that spot, keeping the diseased artery open.

If the narrowing involves a long portion of an artery, surgery may be necessary. A vein from another part of the body or a synthetic blood vessel is used. It's attached above and below the blocked area to detour blood around the blocked spot.