Much like heart disease, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries that serve the legs, stomach, arms and head. Peripheral refers to “away from the heart,” meaning that it affects the limbs, and most commonly the legs.

Many people living with PAD have mild or no symptoms. However, the severity of symptoms is unique to each individual. PAD signs and symptoms can include:

  • Painful cramping in legs after certain activities
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Coldness in lower leg or foot
  • Sores on toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
  • Color change in legs
  • Hair loss or slower hair growth on feet and legs
  • Slower growth of toenails
  • Shiny skin on legs
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in legs or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction

PAD is often caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup. Atherosclerosis can happen to any artery in the body. PAD is dangerous because the blood is restricted to other parts of the body. Without proper blood flow, organs can suffer damage and tissue can become infected.

The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers the full spectrum of PAD care including diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. The cardiovascular specialists, including physicians, surgeons, nurses and technologists, create a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s unique needs.

There are several other factors that can increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed with PAD, including:
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Age
  • Family history of PAD, heart disease or stroke
  • High levels of a protein that builds and maintains tissues, called homocysteine
The best way to reduce symptoms of PAD is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including:
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy blood sugar, especially for someone with diabetes
  • Exercising regularly
  • Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure level
  • Eating foods low in saturated fat
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Long Beach Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program just launched a Supervised Exercise Training Program for PAD. Supervised treadmill exercise is safe and the most effective non-invasive therapy for improving the quality of life and walking distances in people with PAD. Patients in the program will benefit from an established comprehensive program dedicated to risk reduction, including smoking cessation and a visit with a registered dietitian.

The program includes:
  • Intermittent walking on the treadmill
  • Direct supervision of a qualified health care provider
  • Training is a minimum of 30 – 45 minutes per session, three times per week for 12 weeks (Involves intermittent bouts of walking with periods of rest)
  • Warm-up and cool-down sessions before and after each session
  • A visit with a registered dietitian
  • Lifestyle management resources, like smoking cessation

For questions regarding referrals to the PAD Supervised Exercise Training Program at Long Beach Medical Center, please call (562) 933-9326 or email [email protected].