vpl_0716_0001 In peripheral artery disease, or PAD, fatty material called plaque builds up inside t...
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vpl_0716_0001 In peripheral artery disease, or PAD, fatty material called plaque builds up inside the peripheral arteries, which supply blood and oxygen to your limbs. Most commonly PAD affects the pelvis and legs. Plaque can reduce the blood flow, so the cells in your legs don't get the oxygen they need. This can cause symptoms such as pain and cramping during times when your cells need more oxygen, such as when you walk or exercise. The calf muscles are most often affected. However, PAD is often undiagnosed or does not cause symptoms. Scientists are now finding that erectile dysfunction, or ED, can be a marker for undiagnosed PAD. Erection occurs when blood flows into chambers that run the length of the penis and is trapped there. In ED, an erection is hard to produce. ED has been linked to build up of plaque in blood vessels that is not yet causing signs and symptoms. Men with ED are more likely to have PAD. The likelihood increases as ED becomes more frequent. If you have ED, ask your doctor whether you would benefit from testing for PAD. Severe PAD can cause permanent damage to tissue in the lower legs and feet due to lack of blood and oxygen. Early detection and treatment can help prevent damage from occurring.