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Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a progressive narrowing of the blood vessels most often caused by atherosclerosis, the collection of plaque or a fatty substance along the inner lining of the artery wall. Over time, this substance hardens and thickens, which may interfere with blood circulation to the arms, legs, stomach and kidneys. Blood circulation to the brain and heart may be reduced, increasing your risk for stroke and heart disease.

While PAD can affect anyone, one of out three diabetics over age 50 has the disease.

If untreated, it may result in severe disability and in serious cases, leg amputation. Up to 70 percent of all limb amputations not caused by trauma are performed on diabetics with severe PAD.

Our Approach to Peripheral Artery Disease

UCSF offers cutting-edge care for people with peripheral artery disease (PAD), as well as for those at high risk of developing it. Depending on the individual case, the team may include vascular surgeons, heart surgeons, interventional radiologists, podiatrists, endocrinologists, plastic surgeons or other specialists. Together, they provide the most effective therapies – many developed here at UCSF – to prevent or treat PAD and stop it from recurring.

Many patients can be treated with noninvasive methods such as lifestyle changes, medications or both. More severe cases may require surgery. Our surgeons are known for treating the most complex, technically challenging cases, such as patients who also have diabetic peripheral nerve damage and are at risk for limb amputation.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.