Have you heard of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)? Well, the month of September is dedicated to raising awareness of this circulatory disease. PAD Awareness Month will increase national knowledge about the disease to improve access to the screenings and treatments. This disease
affects 1 in 20 Americans over age 50.
What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
When left undiagnosed or untreated, Peripheral Artery Disease can become a severe health concern. If the condition goes undiagnosed, small amounts of pain can progress to severe pain and destruction of healthy tissue. Peripheral Artery Disease is a chronic condition that affects the
circulatory system. Arteries begin to harden as fat and cholesterol build up inside arteries. As arteries become increasingly blocked, less blood and oxygen reach the limbs.
What are the symptoms of PAD?
Some patients with PAD are asymptomatic and are living with no knowledge of what is happening inside their body. Many people start to experience small amounts of pain in their legs and lower extremities and often dismiss the symptoms. Some experience fatigue and discomfort while
walking or moving, which resolves with rest. Severe symptoms include feeling pain, even while resting. Other symptoms include the development of sores on the legs and feet that do not heal, poor nail growth or nail discoloration, and varying temperatures between extremities. It is essential to pay attention to your body. While natural aging can cause more aches and pains, you should still make sure to have regular screenings.
Risks of PAD
The most significant risk related to Peripheral Arterial disease is amputation. As of 2017, PAD is responsible for 80% of all amputations. Factors that contribute to a higher risk of PAD are smoking, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol, age 60 or older. A person’s race may contribute to increased risk, as well as a lack of educational awareness on testing for PAD among the population.
Testing For The Disease
Many people living with PAD have never had an appropriate examination to diagnose and adequately treat the disease. Arterial testing can be done in a variety of ways. One non-invasive procedure is the ankle-brachial index (ABI), which measures the blood pressure in the ankles compared with the arms. This test is administered after a rest period and after exercise to measure the range. Other ways to diagnose PAD are through imaging technologies like ultrasound, angiography, magnetic resonance angiography, and computed tomographic angiography. These scans can provide further detail your vascular doctor can’t see with pressure monitoring alone.
Treatment of PAD
Treatments for peripheral artery disease can vary from minimally invasive to major surgery. The earlier PAD is diagnosed, the more likely minimally invasive procedures will be a viable option.
Bypass Graft Surgery: This is considered a major surgery where a healthy blood vessel is surgically removed and grafted into the blocked vein to allow blood to pass through. Bypass Graft Surgery is well established in the event minimally invasive surgeries fail or when PAD has reached an advanced stage.
Angioplasty: This is a minimally invasive surgery where a balloon is inserted into the artery and inflated to expand the blood vessel.
Artherectomies: This procedure physically removes plaque buildup in the artery. Atherectomy is accomplished using a laser or a tool with a grinding bit.
Stenting: A metal or plastic tube is inserted into the blood vessel to hold it open and allow adequate blood flow. The stent is permanent and left inside the vein.
Awareness about Peripheral Arterial Disease is the first step to ensure your health and quality of life. If you have never had the appropriate screening or are experiencing discomfort, please give us a call at 615-269-9007 to schedule an appointment. Our Board Certified Surgeons can give you the quality assessment needed to identify this disease.