Peripheral Artery Disease

March 25, 2021 2 min read

Peripheral Artery Disease (commonly referred to as PAD) is a circulatory condition that narrows the peripheral arteries. In this particular scenario, peripheral means going away from the heart. So, arteries commonly affected are in the stomach, arms, head, with the most likely area being in the legs. When a person is suffering from PAD, these areas are not receiving enough blood flow.

Causes

The main cause of PAD is Atherosclerosis, which is when plaque build-up made up of fat and cholesterol causes blood flow to be blocked. That blockage results in pain in the affected areas, difficultly walking, and sores due to a lack of adequate circulation.

Other causes include blood vessel inflammation, injury to limbs or radiation exposure.

Symptoms

A great amount of people with PAD either have mild or no symptoms, but the most common symptom to identify this disease is pain when walking or claudication (i.e. limping).

Claudication happens during walking or any other activities where the legs are used. Many times, symptoms stop after a few minutes of rest.

 

Other symptoms include:

  •  Leg numbness/weakness.
  •   Cramping in hips (one or both), thigh, or calf muscles after simple activities like walking.
  •   Loss of hair on legs and feet.
  •   Legs feel much cooler than other parts of your body.
  •   Sores on your feet that are not healing.
  •   Weak pulse in legs and/or feet.

 

Risks

  • Age—chances increase after 50 years of age.
  •  Smoking
  •   Obesity
  •   Diabetes
  •   High Cholesterol
  •   High Blood Pressure

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physical exams, Blood tests, Ultrasounds, and Angiograms (a process in which a doctor will take a needle and insert dye into your bloodstream so any blocked arteries will show up on imaging), are all part of the diagnosis process for PAD.

Treatment options will vary depending on the severity of the disease.

Always recommended first is committing to a healthy lifestyle. Exercising, sticking to a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure can all have major impacts on subsiding symptoms and prevent the disease from progressing.

If those treatment options are not working or symptoms are getting worse, your doctor may suggest:

  •  Angioplasty: Doctor inserts a catheter to put a small balloon in blocked artery, when inflated, the balloon will push out the built-up plaque so the artery can have steady blood flow.
  •  Medications: Your doctor will prescribe medicines that will focus on circulation, anti-clotting, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  •  Bypass graft: Surgery to reroute blood flow around the blocked artery.

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