Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries serving the legs, stomach, arms and head. “Peripheral” in this case means away from the heart, in the outer regions of the body. PAD most commonly affects arteries in the legs.
Both PAD and coronary artery disease (CAD) are caused by atherosclerosis which is a buildup of a fatty substance called Plaque.
PAD diagnosis begins with a physical examination and discussion about any symptoms you may be experiencing. We will check for weak pulses in the legs. Your physical examination may include the following:
If these tests reveal possible abnormal findings then your doctor may recommend one of these other tests.
Treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD) focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression of the disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise and claudication medications are enough to slow the progression or even reverse the symptoms of PAD.
An often effective treatment for PAD symptoms is regular physical activity. Your doctor may recommend a program of supervised exercise training for you, also known as cardiac rehabilitation.
You may have to begin slowly, but simple walking regimens, leg exercises and treadmill exercise programs can ease symptoms. Exercise for intermittent claudication – poor circulation in leg arteries due to buildup of plaque – takes into account the fact that walking causes pain. The program consists of alternating activity and rest in intervals to build up the amount of time you can walk before the pain sets in.
It’s best if this exercise program is undertaken in a rehabilitation center on a treadmill and monitored. If it isn’t possible to go to a rehabilitation center, your healthcare professional may recommend a structured community or home-based program that’s best suited to your situation.
Learn more about our Cardiac Rehab Services.
Many PAD patients have elevated cholesterol levels. A diet low in saturated and trans fat can help lower blood cholesterol levels, but cholesterol-lowering medication may be necessary to maintain the proper cholesterol levels.
The Cardiac Rehab Center at San Tan Cardiovascular offers many useful brochures to help you stick to a healthy diet.
Tobacco smoke is a major risk factor for PAD and your risk for heart attack and stroke. By quitting smoking it will help to slow the progression of PAD and other heart-related diseases.
Learn how you can kick the habit – Quit Smoking / Tobacco / Vaping.
You may be prescribed high blood pressure medications and/or cholesterol-lowering medications. You may also be prescribed medication to help prevent blood clots.
It is important to make sure that you take the medication as recommended by your healthcare professional. Not following directions increases your risk for PAD, as well as heart attack and stroke.
Working with a coordinated healthcare team and making the lifestyle changes necessary to best manage diabetes may help reduce limb-related complications.
For a minority of patients, the above recommendations and treatments aren’t enough, and minimally invasive treatment or surgery may be needed.
Angioplasty or stent placement (as is done in the heart for coronary artery disease (CAD)) are nonsurgical and are performed by inserting a small catheter to reach the blocked artery. A tiny balloon is inflated inside the artery to open the blockage. A stent — a tiny wire mesh cylinder — may also be implanted at this time to help hold the artery open. Atherectomy is a procedure to remove plaque from the artery wall to help the balloon and stent stay open.
San Tan Cardiovascular Center has a state-of-the art Angiography Cath Lab Suite on location that offers superior treatment to our patients. Our Cath Lab team has over 70 years combined experience between the staff. We offer hospital quality care and surgical treatment in a comfortable outpatient setting.
If the blockage in your leg artery is completely blocked or the area blocked is in a location the physician feels might be unsafe for angioplasty then bypass surgery may be necessary. Using a special plastic “graft” material or a vein from another part of the body can help “bypass” and reroute blood around the blocked artery.
Your physician will discuss your options and help choose the best procedure for your situation.
As stated earlier, PAD often goes undiagnosed. Untreated PAD can be dangerous because it can lead to painful symptoms or loss of a leg, and patients with PAD have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack. Because people with PAD have this increased risk for heart attack and stroke, the American Heart Association encourages people at risk to discuss PAD with their healthcare professional to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.
Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.
At this appointment:
Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization. Upon receiving insurance authorization, the treatment will be scheduled.
Q: What are the symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
A: The most common symptoms of PAD involving the lower extremities are:
Be aware that:
It is Important to note that, in many instances, diabetic patients are too quickly misdiagnosed with having diabetic neuropathy instead of investigating further and ruling out peripheral artery disease. These patients might be prescribed unnecessary medications for the neuropathy pain while the underlying cause is not being treated.
Q: What are the risk factors for Peripheral Artery Disease?