Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms and Diagnosis
Peripheral artery disease symptoms
Peripheral artery or arterial disease (PAD) can develop over a lifetime with varying symptoms.
Early PAD symptoms include:
- Leg discomfort
- Leg pain or cramping that develops with walking and is relieved at rest (intermittent claudication)
- Pain in the ball of the foot or toes, while at rest, as PAD progresses
The most severe forms of PAD can cause:
- Painful foot ulcers
- Blue or black discoloration of the toes
- Amputation, when left untreated
Diagnosing peripheral artery disease
In most cases, your doctor at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute can diagnose PAD through a physical exam but can't always measure its severity, especially if you have another condition such as diabetes.
To measure the severity of PAD, your doctor will order noninvasive tests such as:
- A Doppler ultrasound scan
- An ankle-brachial index to measure blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm, the standard measure used to gauge the severity of PAD
In some cases, to confirm a PAD diagnosis, you may need additional tests like:
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- Cardiac catheterization (also called a coronary angiogram)
PAD testing results
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to expect your test results and will call you when they're available.
Learn More About Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms and Tests
From our Health Library at UPMC.com