According to the American Heart Association, peripheral arterial disease is a potentially life-threatening condition that can be managed or even reversed with proper care. Doctor’s say it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.

Peripheral arterial disease or PAD, is blockage of the arteries to the legs, arms, and head. It’s similar to coronary artery disease, and is most commonly found in the legs.

“So these are caused by deposits of plaque of different kind inside the arteries which over time will narrow the blood vessels and eventually will stop blood flow in the arteries,” said Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Eugen Ivan.

Dr. Ivan says there are several symptoms that can alert you to the disease.

“Pain in your legs or discomfort in your legs when you walk,” said Dr. Ivan. “Pain that happens when you’re not walking. Generally at night, and generally it’s in the foot. And the most grave symptom of this disease is what’s called gangrene, where there is already tissue loss.”

Patients can reduce their risk of this disease by living a healthy lifestyle, and not smoking. If a patients change in lifestyle, or medications do not work, Dr. Ivan says there are procedures that can be done to remove the blockage.

“The most common thing that we do is what’s called the balloon angioplasty and stenting procedure,” said Dr. Ivan. “We can use laser to essentially vaporize the plaque and open up the blockage. In other cases when the plaque is hardened, we use atherectomy”

Dr. Ivan says it’s important to be aware of this disease, because the consequences if left untreated, can be grave.

“It can slowly or more rapidly progress to amputation,” said Dr. Ivan. “Where there is essentially gangrene of the whole leg and it cannot be saved. So it’s better if the disease is diagnosed in time. Then we have many options to restore blood flow.”