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Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) describes any atherosclerotic narrowing of the arteries in the body other than those arteries of the heart (coronary artery disease) and brain (cerebral vascular disease). Like all arterial disease, regardless of location, it results from fatty and cholesterol deposits in the wall of the artery (plaque) that progresses to cause blockage and restrict normal blood flow. The symptoms and problems that result from PAD depend on where the blockage occurs. A common area of blockage is in the circulation of the legs. Symptoms from this can include leg pain and fatigue, especially with activity. If the kidney’s arteries are affected, high blood pressure and kidney failure can result. If the carotid arteries (that supply the brain) are affected there is an increased risk for stroke. In some cases of PAD a sudden and complete blockage can occur, usually in association with a blood clot. This is usually an emergency and requires immediate attention, much like when a sudden, complete blockage in the coronary arteries causes a heart attack.
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