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Risk Factors for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

It is possible to develop PAD with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing PAD. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Certain Medical Conditions

Your risk of PAD increases if you have one or more of the following medical conditions:

Lifestyle Factors

The following lifestyle factors can increase your risk of developing PAD:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Sedentary living


PAD is a progressive condition. Symptoms usually develop after age 40 in men and age 50 in women, but may occur earlier.


Men tend to develop PAD earlier than women, beginning about age 40.

Women often develop the condition a decade after menopause. Estrogen appears to be protective during a woman’s childbearing years.

Family History

Your risk of developing PAD increases if you have a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or PAD itself.

Revision Information

  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated August 3, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Understanding your risk for PAD. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/Understand-Your-Risk-for-PAD%5FUCM%5F301304%5FArticle.jsp . Updated August 17, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Who is at risk for peripheral arterial disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad/atrisk.html . Updated April 1, 2011. Accessed August 8, 2013.