Peripheral Arterial Disease and Claudication | Causes & Risk Factors

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How are PAD and claudication related?

Claudication occurs because not enough blood is flowing to a muscle you are actively using. PAD can cause the artery that normally supplies blood to the muscle to become narrow. When that happens, less blood can flow through the artery. When you're resting, enough blood flows to the muscle to meet the needs of the muscle. However, when you walk, the working muscle needs more blood. The narrowed artery may not let enough blood through.

Who is at risk of getting PAD or claudication?

Risk factors for PAD and claudication include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and older age. Claudication is also more likely in people who already have atherosclerosis in other arteries, such as the arteries in the heart or brain. People who have claudication may have already had heart attacks or strokes.

People with leg pain might think it’s from aging, arthritis or a diabetes-related symptom. PAD can be dangerous if it’s not treated. If you notice pain in your legs while walking, ask your doctor about claudication and PAD.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 09/00

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