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Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which the blood vessels that supply the legs and feet with oxygenated blood become narrow and hard. This leads to decreased blood flow to the lower extremities, causing injury to nerves and other tissues.

PAD is caused by arteriosclerosis, in which fatty deposits build up on the walls of arteries, causing a narrowing and hardening of the vessels that restricts blood flow. A common disorder, PAD usually affects men over age 50. The incidence of PAD increases with age and is particularly high among diabetics.

People with abnormal cholesterol, diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease are at higher risk for the disease. When PAD patients walk or exercise, their leg muscles cannot get enough blood and oxygen. As the condition worsens, PAD may prevent enough oxygenated blood from reaching the legs and feet even when a patient is at rest. Severe disease can result in blockage of blood flow, tissue death and, if untreated, could require amputation. Individuals with PAD are also at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

How does molecular imaging help people with PAD?

The diagnosis and evaluation of PAD is extremely challenging. It is estimated that approximately 75% of patients with PAD are undiagnosed. Current diagnostic tools are insensitive and do not enable early intervention.

Myocardial perfusion imaging is effective at both detecting PAD and evaluating the treatment of the disease.