A short introduction to Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Carmen Lobitz
Titelbild des englischen Fachbeitrags über periphere arterielle Verschlusskrankheiten
© peterschreiber.media/stock.adobe.com

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What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)? Circulatory disorders of the legs are among the most common vascular diseases. In 95 % of cases, the circulatory disorder is caused by arteriosclerosis. PAD is a lack of blood flow in the legs or – less frequently – the arms.

It typically causes pain when walking and due to its frequent connection with smoking, it is also commonly referred to as „smoker‘s leg“ or „shop window disease“. Sufferers have to repeatedly stop, e. g. in front of shop windows, until the pain has subsided.

What are the most important symptoms?

Depending on the severity of the PAD, it is usually divided into four stages.

Severity classification according to Fontaine

Stage I
No Symptoms

Stage II
Claudicatio intermittens
IIa Walking distance > 150 m
IIb Walking distance < 150 m

Stage III
Resting pain

Stage IV
Manifest tissue damage

In stage I, patients do not (yet) show symptoms, but if the disease progresses and the vessels become more narrowed, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Pain, when walking (also called “intermittent 

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