Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a serious vascular condition that requires immediate care. During PAD, arteries within the patient’s legs become hardened and/or blocked due to cholesterol deposits – a process which is known as arteriosclerosis. The same process occurs in coronary artery disease, only happening around the heart.
Even if it only occurs in the legs, PAD can lead to life-altering and potentially life-threatening developments, including critical limb ischemia (which may require the amputation of a limb) or stroke and/or heart attack.
What are the symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease?
Early detection of PAD is important. However, many patients who suffer from peripheral artery disease present either mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all. So, if you know you are at risk for vascular issues be vigilant and talk to one of our vascular specialists about the best detection methods.
Many who suffer from PAD will experience leg pain when walking, known as claudication. Claudication – which most often occurs in the calf – includes muscle pain or cramping triggered by exertion, something as simple as walking, but also disappears after a few minutes of rest.
Other symptoms of PAD include:
Poor circulation in the legs
Painful cramping in or both hips, thighs or calf muscles after activities such as walking or stair climbing
Consistent coldness in one of your lower legs – compared to the other
Sores on your feet or legs that will not heal
Weak pulse or no pulse in your legs or feet
Change of color in your legs or feet
What causes Peripheral Artery Disease?
Smokers and diabetics are at an increased risk of PAD, as these factors decrease blood flow. Even if you do not show symptoms and are a smoker or diabetic, you should ask your doctor about testing for PAD. Obesity (having a body mass index above 30), high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. It is also more common in older patients, especially after age 50.
How do we treat Peripheral Artery Disease?
Longstreet Clinic’s Vascular and Vein surgeons utilize several different methods of opening blocked arteries and restoring complete blood flow to the legs and feet.
Arteriograms utilize X-rays and dyes to view major arteries and other parts of the human body. Often called angiography, arteriograms detect how the dye travels through the bloodstream, ultimately revealing the condition of the arteries in specific areas of the body.
This procedure opens blocked arteries by expanding a vessel’s inner diameter via a balloon mounted on a thin tube. A catheter is inserted through the skin and is guided to the area that will be expanded. Cardiologists perform this same procedure in the heart, while vascular surgeons perform this procedure in vessels outside the heart.
Stents are mesh-like metal tubes that can be expanded inside arteries. These are used to help hold arteries open when a balloon angioplasty isn’t successful.
This procedure utilizes a catheter with a sharp blade on the end to remove plaque from the artery. The catheter is inserted into the artery through a small puncture in the vessel and can be performed with the use of local anesthetic.
This treatment dissolves blood clots via the injection of intravenous drugs straight at the site of the blockage. It may also involve the use of a long catheter with a mechanical tip to help remove the clot.
Contact Longstreet Clinic Vascular & Vein today if you would like to learn more about Peripheral Artery Disease and the treatments and procedures we provide to our patients. We perform many outpatient procedures at our office inside our state-of-the-art Vascular Access Center. Call 678-207-4000 for more information.