Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

What You Need to Know

Being diagnosed with peripheral artery disease (PAD) can come as quite a shock. We hope the following topics help you understand more about what it is and why people with PAD have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, a sudden decrease in blood flow to the legs, or amputation, so you can help manage your condition and help reduce your risk for life-threatening cardiovascular events.

What is PAD?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects up to 8.5 million people in the United States alone. It is a progressive condition that is the result of a process called atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up inside the arteries that supply blood to the limbs, usually the legs, and causes pain when walking.

PAD & the Risk of Blood Clots

People with PAD have a high risk for blood clots due to a rupture of plaque in the arteries.

Diagram of normal artery, plaque buildup, and plaque rupture and blood clot

When plaque ruptures and forms a blood clot, it can cut off blood flow to the limbs, creating a serious blockage that may lead to amputation if left untreated. People with PAD also have an increased risk of having a life-threatening heart attack or stroke.

Treatments for PAD

Some common treatments for PAD include certain procedures to restore blood flow to your limbs:

  • A peripheral artery bypass graft surgery may have been performed to help restore blood flow and minimize the potential for future complications
  • A stent may have been implanted to open up the arteries and improve blood flow

However, as with any stent procedure, you’re still at risk for life-threatening blood clot–related events like heart attack and stroke, or even an amputation. Your healthcare professional may prescribe medicines to help reduce your risk for blood clots. Although many people with PAD take a daily aspirin, it may not be enough to reduce blood clot risk.

Why Aspirin Alone May Not Be Enough

A large study of almost 40,000 people, including those with peripheral artery disease (PAD) or coronary artery disease (CAD), showed that even though more than half were taking aspirin, the number of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths more than doubled over a two-year period.*

Your healthcare professional may prescribe a blood thinner in addition to your daily aspirin to help reduce your risk for blood clots that can cause a heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular death.

*According to data from the REACH Registry.

What’s Next?

Read Learning About XARELTO® for more information about how XARELTO® works with aspirin to help reduce your risk for life-threatening blood clots related to PAD.