What is Peripheral Artery Diseases (PAD)?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the narrowing of the arteries that carry blood away from the heart. The leading cause of PAD is plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). It is most common in the legs and feet, but people can also develop it in the arms. It can lead to skin changes, leg pain, wounds that do not heal, and poor muscle perfusion.

Plaque builds on the artery wall, causing the artery to become hardened and narrower. The plaque is mostly fat and cholesterol build-up. There is a reduction of oxygenated blood flow because of blockage in the artery.

Signs & Symptoms

It is possible to have PAD without experiencing any symptoms. Symptoms usually develop slowly over a prolonged period. People often mistake the symptoms as signs of aging, but it is always a good idea to see a provider if you’re experiencing any symptoms.

One of the most common symptoms of PAD is pain in the muscles that happens at times of physical activity and subsides (known as intermittent claudication).

The American Heart Association indicates PAD symptoms as:

Risk Factors

The major causes and risk factors of PAD are the same as atherosclerosis in the coronary and neck arteries. Patients with PAD have an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, or a heart attack. If left untreated, it can also lead to amputation.

You should get screened if you exhibit any of the following risk factors:

The presence of three or more of these risk factors makes the risk for PAD ten times more likely.

How is PAD diagnosed & treated?

To improve your health and reduce the risk of PAD, lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity may be recommended. The best method of treatment depends on the patient and severity of the disease.

Premier Cardiovascular Consultants will perform a physical exam, review your medical history, and discuss the symptoms you are having. Depending on your symptoms, testing may be performed, including:

It may be recommended to start taking aspirin and/or other similar antiplatelet medicines to prevent serious complications from PAD and associated atherosclerosis. Also, patients may need to start taking medication to reduce blood cholesterol.

If the disease cannot be managed with lifestyle changes alone, other options for treatment are endovascular intervention. However, Premier Cardiovascular Consultants will develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to your needs.

To learn more about PAD, schedule an appointment by calling Premier Cardiovascular Consultants or request an appointment online today.

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