PAD is usually part of a generalized disease process affecting blood vessels in the entire body . If you have PAD, there is high likelihood that you may have disease in blood vessels supplying heart and brain. Patients with PAD are also at significant potential risk of heart attack and stroke.
Introduction to Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is an issue where the blood flow to the legs or the arms is narrowed, because of the arteries. There is a certain demand that your legs and arms expect of your body, and in the case of people with Peripheral Arterial Disease, their bodies cannot keep up because there isn’t enough blood flow.
People often wonder “Is there a peripheral arterial disease doctor near me” or “Is there a peripheral arterial disease clinic near me,” because they need to find a peripheral arterial disease specialist. Here is what you should know about peripheral arterial disease so that you can figure out if you need to take action.
Who Should be Screened for Peripheral Arterial Disease?
There are many peripheral arterial disease causes. People who have risk factors for the disease should be screened for Peripheral Arterial Disease. That is, if you’re someone with a family history of having the disease, you should be screened. Moreover, if heart disease or stroke runs in your family, get screened. Also, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high levels of homocysteine, or obesity should get screened. Age increases your risk of having Peripheral Arterial Disease, so if you’re over 65 or over 50 with risk factors, be sure to get screened.
Peripheral Arterial Disease Symptoms
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can manifest in different stages, ranging from asymptomatic to progressively symptomatic, and in severe cases, it can lead to ulcers. Understanding the various stages of PAD can help in early detection, intervention, and management of the condition.
1. Asymptomatic PAD: In the early stages, PAD may not present noticeable symptoms, and individuals may be unaware of the underlying arterial blockages. However, even in the absence of symptoms, reduced blood flow to the extremities can still occur. Regular check-ups and screenings, especially for individuals with risk factors like smoking, diabetes, or hypertension, are crucial for early detection. After symptoms can include difficulty walking and intermittent claudication.
2. Claudication: Claudication is the hallmark symptom of PAD and occurs when individuals experience pain, cramping, or fatigue in the legs during physical activity. The discomfort typically subsides with rest. Claudication is a result of inadequate blood flow to the leg muscles due to arterial narrowing or blockages. The severity of claudication can vary, ranging from mild discomfort to debilitating pain.
3. Rest Pain: As PAD progresses, the blockages in the arteries can become more severe, resulting in reduced blood flow even at rest. Rest pain is characterized by persistent pain or discomfort in the feet or toes, particularly during the night when the legs are elevated. The pain may be described as throbbing, burning, or tingling and can disrupt sleep and daily activities.
4. Ulcer/Gangrene: In advanced stages of PAD, the reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to the extremities can lead to the development of ulcers or non-healing wounds. Ulcers typically form on the feet, toes, or lower legs and can be painful, deep, and prone to infection. These wounds are slow to heal due to impaired circulation and can become chronic if not appropriately managed.
Peripheral Arterial Disease Risk Factors
Several risk factors contribute to the development and progression of PAD, highlighting the importance again for early identification and management.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage blood vessels over time, leading to atherosclerosis and narrowing of the arteries. People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing PAD, and the condition often progresses more rapidly in this population
- End-stage renal failure: Renal failure, also known as kidney failure, refers to the loss of kidney function, resulting in an inability to adequately filter waste products and excess fluids from the blood. This condition can be caused by various factors, including chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which are also significant risk factors for PAD.
- Smoking: Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, causing them to become narrow and restricting blood flow. Individuals who smoke or have a history of smoking are at a significantly higher risk of developing PAD compared to nonsmokers.
- Hypercholesterolemia: This refers to high levels of cholesterol in the blood and is a significant risk factor for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Elevated cholesterol levels, particularly high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, which is the underlying cause of PAD.
- Hypertension or high blood pressure: A common risk factor for PAD, elevated blood pressure causes the arteries to become stiff and less flexible, impeding proper blood flow and increasing the risk of arterial blockages.
Peripheral Arterial Disease Diagnosis
It is crucial to check for Peripheral Arterial Disease, to treat the illness. There are several ways to check for the disease, but oftentimes, doctors will check the circulation in your feet.
A foot exam can lead to diagnoses because if doctors feel that you have an abnormal pulse in your foot, they can give you an ankle-brachial index test. This test compares the blood pressure in your foot and the blood pressure in your arm to identify abnormalities that could signal PAD.
The 5 Ps of Peripheral Arterial Disease and Clinical Presentation
When you’re watching out for Peripheral Arterial Disease, it’s important that you pay attention to the “five Ps.” These are:
- Pain: Pain or cramping in the legs that typically occurs during physical activity and subsides with rest. The pain is often described as aching, cramping, or fatigue in the muscles.
- Pallor: Pallor refers to paleness of the skin. In PAD, the affected extremities, usually the legs and feet, may appear pale or blanched due to reduced blood flow.
- Pulse: In advanced stages of PAD, the affected limb may have a diminished or absent pulse. This indicates a severe reduction in blood flow to the peripheral arteries
- Paresthesia: Paresthesia refers to abnormal sensations in the affected limb, such as tingling, numbness, or a “pins and needles” sensation. It is a result of nerve damage caused by inadequate blood supply.
- Paralysis: In severe cases of PAD, where blood flow is severely restricted or completely blocked, paralysis or muscle weakness may occur.
Prevention and Peripheral Arterial Disease Treatment
It is possible to ward off the disease if you take care of yourself. For one, it is important to manage your heart health, by exercising and keeping healthy. If you find yourself with high cholesterol that cannot be managed otherwise, make sure that you go on a statin to manage your cholesterol. Talk to your doctor if you have high cholesterol, however, to determine what’s right for you.
Of course, not smoking, controlling your blood sugar levels, avoiding unhealthy foods, and keeping a healthy weight are all important things to prevent PAD. Sometimes, you cannot prevent Peripheral Arterial Disease, though, and it’s possible to manage your symptoms if you have it.
Coldness in the legs, numbness, cramping, sores, hair loss, and pain are all symptoms that can come if you have PAD. To reduce symptoms, try to engage in a regular exercise routine. Like you should keep your overall health in check to prevent PAD, managing diabetes and cholesterol can help reduce symptoms for those with the disease, too. There are also minimally invasive treatments or surgery procedures that relieve symptoms, which are helpful.
Thanks to the significant recent advances in minimally invasive treatment of PAD. These include drug coated balloons, drug delivery balloons, drug eluting stents, mechanical thrombectomy devices, as well as devices to remove clots.
Peripheral Arterial Disease Minimally Invasive Treatments at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic
Recent advances in minimally invasive treatments for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) have revolutionized the management of the condition. These treatments offer alternatives to traditional open surgeries, minimizing the invasiveness, reducing recovery time, and improving patient outcomes.
One of the breakthrough techniques is the use of drug-coated balloons, which involve inflating a balloon in the narrowed artery to compress the plaque while delivering medication directly to the site. This helps to re-narrow the artery. Similarly, drug delivery balloons are designed to deliver medication directly into the artery wall to prevent inflammation and promote healing.
Another innovative approach is the utilization of drug-eluting stents. These stents are coated with medications that are slowly released into the artery, preventing scar tissue formation and keeping the vessel open for a longer duration. This reduces the chances of reblockage.
Another minimally invasive treatment is mechanical thrombectomy for PAD. These devices are designed to remove blood clots from blocked arteries, restoring blood flow and preventing further damage to the tissues.
Overall, these minimally invasive treatments provide more targeted and precise interventions, promoting better patient outcomes with reduced risks and complications. However, it’s important to consult a vascular specialist to determine the most suitable treatment option based on the individual’s specific condition and medical history.
Peripheral Arterial Disease versus Peripheral Vascular Disease
There are differences between Peripheral Arterial Disease and Peripheral Vascular Disease. Most notably, PAD tends to affect the way your arteries function, and PVD tends to affect the way your blood vessels work.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) specifically refers to the narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the limbs, typically the legs. PAD can lead to reduced blood flow to the legs and feet, resulting in symptoms such as leg pain, ulcers, and difficulty walking.
On the other hand, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a broader term that encompasses any condition that affects the blood vessels outside of the heart and brain. PVD encompasses a wider range of conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), venous insufficiency, and lymphatic disorders.
Read More About Vascular Treatments on Our Blog
To dive deeper into the types of vascular treatments, head over to our clinic’s blog.
- Exploring Vascular Health, Medical Advances, and Technology
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- Vascular Malformations, Hemangioma, and Treatment Explained
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The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic works to provide state-of-the-art care and your “go-to” facility for various conditions and pain management. There are many peripheral arterial disease treatments, and we are committed to helping you find the one that’s right for you. To learn more about your peripheral arterial disease condition, contact us to arrange an appointment on our website with vascular specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, or call us at +65 6904 8084.