Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a serious but treatable condition. With expert management, you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. At Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, we work together to get you the treatment you need, so you can live a full, active life.

U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the top 20 programs in the nation for heart care. As the only vascular medicine program in the region, we can provide the effective care you need. Our team includes experienced cardiologists who are board certified in vascular medicine. 

Peripheral Artery Disease: Why Choose Vanderbilt

At Vanderbilt, our program is:

  • Focused on you: We are passionate about helping patients have a positive heart care experience. Our team isn’t in a hurry to get to the next patient. We take the time to get to know you and address your questions or concerns. In addition, you can always contact your team through our secure online portal, My Health at Vanderbilt. We guarantee a prompt response. 
  • Known for excellence: U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the top 20 heart programs in the nation, and we are the only top-ranked program in Tennessee. Whether you need a routine procedure or a complex surgery, you are in expert hands. You will receive a prompt, accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan for PAD.
  • Unique in the region: Vanderbilt has the only dedicated vascular medicine program in the region. Our vascular specialists work closely with surgeons, imaging experts and other heart specialists to provide you with comprehensive, personalized care. 
  • Staffed by cardiologists: Unlike other vein centers, our cardiologists are all board certified in vascular medicine. That means your doctor has advanced training in diagnosing and treating heart and vascular conditions, so you can get the specialized care you need.

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Your peripheral arteries are blood vessels located throughout your body, in your legs, arms, stomach and head. PAD occurs when the arteries narrow due to atherosclerosis, or the buildup of cholesterol-based plaque inside the artery. Severe PAD can block blood flow to your limbs, causing leg pain and putting you at risk of a stroke or heart attack. 

PAD is also known as peripheral vascular disease, or PVD. When it affects your carotid arteries (the arteries in your neck that supply blood to your brain), it is called carotid artery disease. 

Peripheral Artery Disease Tests and Diagnosis

Diagnosing PAD generally does not involve invasive tests. We may use:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): Uses a blood pressure cuff and an ultrasound device to compare ankle blood pressure to arm blood pressure
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): Noninvasive test using a powerful magnet and radiofrequency to produce images of the body
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA): Noninvasive test using contrast dye and X-ray images to produce images of the blood vessels
  • Angiography: Inserting a thin tube into an artery and taking X-ray images of arteries and veins. This test is more invasive compared to the other imaging tests. We will give you a sedative and anesthesia to ensure you are comfortable during the test.

Peripheral Artery Disease Treatments

Once we confirm a diagnosis, we work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs. We will discuss your treatment options with you and answer any questions you may have.

Your team may include:

  • Vascular medicine doctors
  • Wound care physicians
  • Interventional cardiovascular medicine specialists
  • Vascular surgeons

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Lifestyle modifications: Our vascular medicine specialists and cardiologists work together to help you make changes to your diet and manage risk factors such as diabetes. Reducing cholesterol and getting more physical activity can help reduce PAD symptoms.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation: Your doctor may want you to work with a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, who will create a supervised exercise regimen. 
  • Medication: You may begin a medication regimen, including medications for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood clot prevention. If you’re taking warfarin (Coumadin®), learn more about the anticoagulation clinic.
  • Minimally invasive procedures: When PAD is severe or does not respond to other treatments, you may need an interventional cardiologist or vascular surgeon. Interventional (catheter-based) procedures to treat PAD include:
    • Angioplasty: Using a small incision, your doctor inserts a catheter (plastic tube) to reach the blocked artery. Inflating a small balloon inside the artery helps open the clog.
    • Stenting: During angioplasty, your doctor may also use a stent, or a small cylinder made of wire mesh, to keep the artery open after the balloon is inflated.
    • Atherectomy: As with angioplasty, your doctor makes a small incision and inserts a catheter into your artery. This catheter is specially designed to scrape plaque from the blood vessel.
  • Surgical procedures: When PAD is severe and minimally invasive procedures are not an option, you may need to consult with a surgeon about bypass surgery. During bypass surgery, we take a synthetic graft or blood vessel from another part of your body and use it to bypass the blockage in the leg.

Learn more about interventional cardiology.

Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute Locations

Our experienced team of doctors may see patients at additional locations. To find the location closest to you, call (615) 322-2318.

8401 Highway 111
Byrdstown, TN 38549
(615) 322-2318
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1645 S. Main St., Suite 101
Crossville, TN 38555
(615) 322-2318
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Maury Regional Medical Center
1220 Trotwood Ave., Suite 401
Columbia, TN 38401
(931) 388-8622
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Williamson Medical Center
4323 Carothers Pkwy., Williamson Tower, Suite 405
Franklin, TN 37067
(615) 875-5337
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1611 S. Locust St.
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464
(931) 388-8622
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1370 Gateway Blvd., Suite 200
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
(615) 895-1301
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Medical Center East
1215 21st Ave S., 5th Floor
Nashville, TN 37232
(615) 322-2318
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One Hundred Oaks
719 Thompson Ln., Suite 22100
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 322-2318
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1255 E. College St., Suite 2A
Pulaski, TN 38478
(931) 388-8622
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2839 Highway 231 N., Suite 209
Shelbyville, TN 37160
(931) 685-4492
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101 Mangubat Dr., Suite A
Waynesboro, TN 38485
(931) 388-8622
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1397 S. College St., Suite 1
Winchester, TN 37398
(615) 322-2318
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1010 Medical Center Dr.
Powderly, KY 42367
(615) 322-2318
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Peripheral Artery Disease Providers