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Peripheral Artery Disease

A common condition, peripheral artery disease (PAD) often causes painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs, or calves. The pain starts while you are exercising, but continues after you stop. PAD increases your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

About Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral arteries bring oxygen-rich blood to your arms and legs—the outer areas of the body. When they become narrow or blocked, it makes it difficult for blood to flow normally. We call this condition peripheral artery disease or PAD. In its early stages, PAD causes painful cramping while you walk. If the disease progresses, it may cause variety of other symptoms that could include:

  • Coldness or numbness in your arms, legs, fingers, or toes
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Non-healing wounds or skin ulcers
  • Pain in the feet and legs

  • Thinning or loss of hair on the legs

Your risk of PAD increases as you get older. Risk factors for PAD include:

  • Accumulation of fat in the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of PAD
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • High cholesterol

  • Obesity

  • Physical inactivity
  • Renal disease
  • Smoking

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose PAD, we start with a thorough physical exam. We then will use a variety of tests to further diagnosis PAD which includes;

  • Angiography is an imaging test that allows us to see the arteries in your abdomen, pelvis, and legs, using contrast dye that we insert through a catheter placed in your arteries.

  • Ankle-brachial index is a painless exam that compares the blood pressure in the leg to the blood pressure in the arm.

  • Arterial or venous duplex ultrasounds use sound waves to let us measure blood flow in your arteries, to determine if there is a blockage.

  • Computerized tomography employs X-rays to create detailed pictures of your heart and arteries.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) takes advantage of magnets and radio wave technology to capture images of your arteries.

Although PAD cannot be cured, we can reduce symptoms and prevent future problems such as heart attack or stroke. We may start by recommending lifestyle changes such as exercising, weight loss, and smoking cessation. We may also prescribe medications.In certain cases, we offer a variety of minimally invasive and open surgical procedures that can help. Minimally invasive procedures include:

  • Balloon angioplasty involves inserting a thin tube (catheter) with a balloon on the tip into your artery, moving it to the location of the PAD, and then inflating it to open your artery and restore blood flow.

  • Laser atherectomy uses a catheter that emits high-energy light, called a laser, to vaporize the blockage and increase blood flow through the artery.

  • Rotational atherectomy using a catheter with a revolving blade to break the plaque that is blocking blood flow into tiny pieces that can pass through the blood vessel.

  • Stent implantation is similar to angioplasty. We insert a catheter with a balloon on the end into the problem area and inflate the balloon to open up the artery. Then we use a second device to insert a stent, which we expand, to hold the artery open. The stent remains in your artery to keep your blood flowing properly.