What is Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is also known as peripheral vascular disease or PVD. It is a circulatory issue that occurs when blood flow becomes restricted to your limbs. This often results from plaque buildup or atherosclerosis in your arteries. While PAD most commonly affects your legs, it may also reduce blood flow to your heart or brain.
When you develop peripheral arterial disease, your extremities don’t receive enough blood flow to meet demand. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication).
Peripheral artery disease is likely a sign of fatty deposits in your arteries. This is often called atherosclerosis. You can treat peripheral artery disease by quitting tobacco, exercising, and eating a healthy diet.
Approximately half of the individuals with PAD experience mild to no symptoms. The most common symptom is leg pain while walking. The severity of claudication can vary in pain.
Signs and symptoms of peripheral artery disease are:
- Fatigue or cramping of your calf, thigh, hip, or buttock muscles may signal you have PAD. This commonly occurs after walking a certain distance.
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
- pain in your toes or feet while resting may demonstrate an advancing PAD case.
- An open wound or ulcer on your toes or feet. This is often at a pressure point on foot. An ulcer can progress to gangrene. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
- Shiny skin on your legs
- No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Causes of peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease is often caused by fatty deposits or plaque that builds upon the artery walls. This is also known as atherosclerosis, and it can reduce your blood flow.
Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in your body. When it’s in your arms and legs, doctors call it peripheral arterial disease.
The causes of PAD include smoking, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. Diabetes, kidney failure, and obesity are other causes of peripheral arterial disease. It is possible genetic factors could play a role. Less commonly, blood vessel inflammation, or injury to your limbs. Also, the unusual anatomy of your ligaments or muscles or radiation exposure can cause PAD.
Diagnosing Peripheral Arterial Disease
Some of the tests to diagnose peripheral artery disease are:
Sometimes, doctors can find this disease by doing physical exams. They listen to your heart and neck with a stethoscope. They also press on your arms and legs. If they hear the whoosh sound in your arm while they are pressing it, that usually means you have Peripheral Vascular Disease. When doctors feel the pulse in your arm and it is weak or doesn’t move at all, that is another clue that you have Peripheral Vascular Disease.
Ankle-brachial index (ABI)
This is a test that a doctor can do to see whether you are likely to have PAD. The doctor will want you to first use a machine that makes your ankle swell. He or she will then check the ankle using a special machine and a cuff on your arm. It’s like when you take your blood pressure. Another way to test for this is running or walking on a treadmill. This is when the doctor checks your blood pressure from head to toe immediately after working out on the treadmill.
Special ultrasound imaging techniques can diagnose PAD. Doppler ultrasound can help your doctor evaluate blood flow through your blood vessels. This determines blocked or narrowed arteries.
An angiography uses a dye (contrast material) injected into your blood vessels. This allows us to view blood flow through your arteries as it happens. Your doctor can trace the flow of the contrast material using imaging techniques.
A blood sample can measure your cholesterol and triglycerides and check for diabetes.
PAD is a serious condition. Cramping while walking or exercising can be caused by clogged arteries. These arteries have a decreased blood flow resulting in cramping. Other side effects include numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs and feet and burning pain in the feet and toes. In severe cases, Peripheral artery disease of known for causing critical limb ischemia. This is a condition that begins as open sores that do not heal. When sores will progress to tissue depth, it is known as gangrene. Sometimes this requires amputation of the affected limb.
Furthermore, peripheral arterial disease increases your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Atherosclerosis causes the signs and symptoms of PAD and isn’t limited to your legs. Fat deposits also build up in arteries supplying blood to your heart and brain.
- Quit smoking if you’re a smoker.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under reasonable control.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes several times a week after you’ve gotten your doctor’s OK.
- Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, if applicable.
- Eat foods that are low in saturated fat.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
To salvage the limbs, PAD is medically treated with prescribed medications. These medications treat high cholesterol and control blood pressure. As well as decrease pain while walking to increase exercise. They also aim to prevent the buildup of plaque or the formation of blood clots.
Peripheral artery disease is also treated using minimally invasive interventional radiology procedures. Angioplasty opens a blocked artery with a medical balloon, enabling better blood flow. In some cases, the affected arteries need to remain open using a stent, a small metal cylinder.
Another procedure is a stent graft. This procedure uses a stent covered with synthetic fabric. This stent is inserted in the blood vessels to bypass affected arteries.
Moreover, a third interventional radiology procedure for peripheral artery disease is atherectomy. This procedure uses a small catheter at the site of the blockage. This catheter shaves the plaque away from the inside of the artery and removes it from the patient’s body.
Occasionally, PAD may be severe enough that a medical team has no choice but to perform surgery. This may be the only way to remove blockages or create bypasses around the clogged areas.
Coastal Vascular Center is Equipped to Treat Your Peripheral Arterial Disease
Coastal Vascular Center is the Houston area’s peripheral arterial disease specialist.
We are an outpatient clinic. All procedures occur in a safe environment with highly skilled physician staff. Patients find it more convenient to visit our clinic because of our personalized care. Coastal Vascular Center specializes in concierge medicine and boutique-level patient care.
Additionally, our treatment center also treats vascular diseases, uterine fibroids, and dialysis management. Coastal Vascular Center also focuses on minimally invasive procedures so that our patients experience a faster recovery time.
Dr. Ayar’s Experience
Dr. Divyang C. Ayar operates Coastal Vascular Center. He is a board-certified radiologist and a vascular specialist. Dr. Ayar has extensive experience treating patients suffering from peripheral arterial disease. His certification is in both diagnostic radiology and interventional and vascular radiology. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ayar understands your needs and concerns as a patient. He has performed thousands of successful vein management operations.
Under the direction of Dr. Ayar, Coastal Vascular Center specializes in treating the whole spectrum of venous disease. We treat – peripheral arterial disease, spider veins, and varicose veins. Additionally, we treat venous ulcers, leg swelling, and deep vein thrombosis. Coastal Vascular Center utilizes advanced techniques to provide minimally invasive treatment of venous disease. Give Coastal Vascular Center a call today!