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Peripheral Artery Disease

PAD affects more than 18 million people – more than cancer, stroke, and congestive heart failure.  1 in 3 people over the age of 50 who suffer from diabetes have PAD. There is a 5-year mortality rate of 60%. Early detection is important.  If you think you might be at risk for the disease, consult a health care professional.

RISK FACTORS:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • High Blood Pressure / Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Obesity / Unhealthy diet
  • High Cholesterol
  • Kidney Disease
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress

The arteries most commonly affected by PAD are

  • Carotid
  • Renal
  • Aorta
  • Lower extremity

Symptoms

The most common symptom of PAD is called claudication, which is leg pain that occurs when walking or exercising and disappears when the person stops the activity.  Other symptoms of PAD include:

  • Cramping, leg or hip pain which occurs when you walk, but goes away when you rest
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs
  • Burning or aching pain in your feet or toes when resting
  • A sore on a leg or foot that won’t heal
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Loss of hair on your legs

What can you do?

Fortunately, there’s a simple test that a doctor can perform in the office to help determine if you have PAD.  It is a simple noninvasive test that measure ABI (Ankle brachial index).  The test compares the blood pressure in your ankle to that in your arm, if the pressure is lower in your ankle than your arm there is a chance you have PAD.

Lifestyle changes

In most cases, lifestyle changes can be enough to slow the progression of, or reverse the disease.  Your doctor may suggest that you quit smoking, begin an exercise regimen, and change your diet to one that is lower in fat and cholesterol.  Other factors include:

  • Control diabetes
  • Control blood pressure / Hypertension
  • Eat a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet

Medication

Some people will need to take a cholesterol-lowering medication, or medication that controls high blood pressure.   These may be prescribed in addition to lifestyle changes.

Treatment Options

The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on your overall health as well as the severity of the disease.

There are a number of procedures that doctors use to open blood vessels at the site of blockages caused by PAD.  In many cases, these procedures can be performed without surgery using modern, interventional radiology techniques.  A number of times lifestyle changes, medication and/or an interventional procedure can alleviate PAD.

Have your heard of CLI?

We understand that as you learn more about peripheral artery disease (PAD), you may discover stages of the disease you’re unfamiliar with, such as critical limb ischemia, or CLI.  This is the worst form of PAD.

When you have PAD, your arteries are narrowed, restricting the blood flow to your legs, feet and/or toes.  If a diagnosis has shown your PAD has advanced to CLI, the restricted blood flow could be so considerable and widespread that you may be at risk for amputation.

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