Heart Health

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is also referred to as peripheral vascular disease or atherosclerosis. PAD occurs when a buildup of plaque deposits in the coronary artery causes the blood vessels to narrow or block entirely. 

Many people with PAD experience no symptoms; those who do, however, often report fatigue or cramping in the calf, thigh, hip, or buttocks.

It is not unusual to experience pain in the toes or feet while resting. This is a sign of an advancing case of PAD. Physical symptoms in the leg that may indicate PAD include hair loss, skin cold to the touch, decreased or absent pulses in the feet, wounds that won’t heal, discoloration of the extremities, and gangrene.

The treatment for PAD concentrates on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression of the disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise, and claudication medications are enough to slow PAD progression. In some cases, these fixes are enough to reverse the symptoms altogether. 

  • Regular physical activity. This is often the most effective treatment. Your doctor will recommend a supervised exercise program to decrease the symptoms of PAD. 
  • Healthy diet. Eat foods that are low in saturated fat to help reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Smoking cessation.Avoid tobacco use. If you smoke, ask your vascular surgeon to recommend a cessation program that will work for you.
  • Some medications. Your doctor may recommend that you take aspirin or  similar anti-platelet medicine to prevent serious complications from PAD. You may also be required to take medication to reduce your blood pressure and/or cholesterol.


If you are suffering from leg discomfort or have questions about peripheral artery disease, talk to one of our providers about treatment options today.

Sonic Pressure Wave Treatment

Baptist Health is now offering a treatment option for those suffering from an advanced form of peripheral artery disease (PAD) in which the plaque blockage also includes the presence of calcium.

The treatment is available at the health care organization’s campuses in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway and Fort Smith.

Intravascular Lithotripsy is an innovative advanced technology that uses sonic pressure waves to modify problematic calcium so that blockage can be alleviated, and blood flow can be restored. The therapy uses a similar minimally invasive approach that has been embraced by physicians for decades to treat kidney stones, which are also made up of calcium.

PAD affects nearly nine million people in the United States by preventing blood flow to the legs and feet, causing significant pain and limited mobility, and potentially leading to surgery or even amputation in severe cases.

However, general awareness of PAD is estimated at only 25 percent based on prior studies. As the U.S. population continues to live longer, the incidence of calcium within these blockages is rising.

Calcium slowly develops and progresses to its hardened, bone-like state over the course of several decades of cellular growth and death in diseased plaque within the vessel walls. While it is slow to develop, its impact is immediately encountered when performing procedures to repair calcified plaques in the vessel.

The calcium’s hardened structure restricts normal vessel movement and makes the rigid vascular tissue resistant to traditional balloon therapies that have been designed to compress the plaque within the vessel wall to restore normal blood flow.

For these reasons, the presence of calcium increases the complexity of most cases and decreases the effectiveness of most treatments.