What Is PAD?

Peripheral Arterial Disease, PAD, occurs when cholesterol and other fats circulating in the blood collect on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to your limbs. This buildup, called plaque, narrows arteries which often leads to reducing or blocking the flow of blood. PAD commonly occurs in the legs and can also be present in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the head, arms, kidneys and stomach.

Many people with PAD do not experience symptoms, which is why early diagnosis is so important. Once symptoms do appear, the disease may have already progressed significantly. If they do occur, symptoms of PAD may include:

  • Painful leg cramping
  • Numbness, weakness or heaviness in the legs
  • Burning or aching in feet and toes
  • Cooling of skin on legs or feet
  • Loss of hair on legs or feet
  • Foot sores or foot ulcers

Who Is at Risk?

Older adult holding leg, likely claudication, a symptom associated with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).

Adults 60 and older

1 in 5 people over the age of 60 have PAD.2

A person administers diabetes test on finger. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) commonly affects people with diabetes and also people who smoke.

Diabetes & smoking

A family history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes along with smoking or obesity can elevate the risk for PAD.

An older adult stands with hands crossed, demonstrating that ethnicity and genetics can be a risk factor for PAD.

Race & genetics

Lifetime risk of PAD varies by race, but all are vulnerable to traditional risk factors.  Physician consultation is recommended.

Lifestyle Factors That Affect PAD




High blood pressure

Family history of PAD

Heart disease or stroke

7 Facts About Early Detection of PAD

Download PDF

Traditional PAD Diagnosis and Testing


Intermittent claudication is pain affecting the calf, and less commonly the thigh and buttock, that is induced by exercise and relieved by rest. It occurs as a result of muscle ischaemia (inadequate blood supply to a part of the body) during exercise caused by obstruction of arterial flow.5  The location of the pain depends on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery.

Classic claudication is defined as muscle discomfort in the lower limbs that is reproduced by exercise and relieved by rest within 10 minutes.6

While traditionally considered as an indicator for PAD, research sites that only about 10% of patients with PAD experience intermittent claudication.7  Additional research states that only 10% to 30% have typical intermittent claudication.8

Pedal Pulse Test

Detecting a pedal pulse has traditionally been used as a window view of overall cardiovascular health. Performed during a physical examination, a clinician will attempt to locate an arterial pulse, which can be felt on the top of the foot on the front part of the ankle. An absent or diminished pedal pulse may indicate PAD.

There is a strong association between Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and future cardiovascular events. Therefore, intensive atherosclerotic risk factor reduction is recommended for people with PAD, and early detection is essential.9

Research suggests that pulse palpation is an inappropriate screening tool for PAD. Within this referenced study, more than two thirds of the patients with PAD of either the left or right leg had a detectable pulse.10  As previously noted, many PAD patients are undiagnosed and traditional methods, such as pedal pulse, may miss early detection due to the body's ability to build collateral circulation to compensate for early obstructions.

ABI Testing

Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) testing uses blood pressure cuffs and or doppler ultrasound imaging to detect significant PAD.

An illustration of an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) testing being demonstrated, which uses blood pressure cuffs to detect significant Peripheral arterial disease (PAD).Jmarchn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While a standard for decades, ABI is not considered a practical testing modality in primary care or home settings where critical initial detection of PAD is often diagnosed.

A Better Solution


The QuantaFlo System is a quick and accurate test for primary care, internal medicine, and specialists to identify flow abnormalities associated with PAD.  The market-leading QuantaFlo System is currently  in use at hospitals, clinics, physician offices and home settings throughout the country.

Learn More