Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects about 8 million Americans, but according to the American Heart Association, only about 25% of those people are undergoing treatment.

While medication and exercise can help, some people with PAD may be candidates for surgery, such as bypass surgery or angioplasty.

PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply the legs with blood. (This is the same artery-clogging process that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.)

Just as surgery to unclog arteries can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, angioplasties and bypass surgery can help restore blood flow to the legs of people with PAD. Although they are not as common as the comparable procedures for heart disease, the number of PAD surgeries is on the rise. An estimated 100,000 peripheral angioplasties are now performed in the U.S. each year.

The following information from our A-Z Health Library can help you determine if you should talk to your doctor about surgery for PAD.