Peripheral artery disease, sometimes known as PAD, is a condition that can affect many important regions of the body, like the head, stomach, and limbs. At R Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View, CA, we understand how important it is to treat this condition quickly and effectively. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this disease, including how it can be treated. Read on to learn more.
How Do You Treat Peripheral Artery Disease?
There are several PAD treatment methods, including lifestyle changes; drugs to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, other causative conditions; and surgery. Note that surgery is typically the ideal treatment method for severe cases. Depending on your unique situation, it may be advisable for you to undergo:
- Bypass surgery
- Thrombolytic therapy
Angioplasty is a procedure that involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel. At the inserted end of this catheter is a small balloon. During surgery, the balloon and the rest of the catheter are threaded through the blood vessel to the artery. Once there, the blockage will be flattened, and the artery will be opened by inflating the balloon. In some cases, a stent may be inserted to keep the artery from collapsing.
If you’re a smoker, not smoking is one of the most effective lifestyle changes you can make to manage your PAD symptoms. If you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past, don’t hesitate to reach out to your primary care physician and ask for resources that can help you quit for good. If you have PAD, smoking will exacerbate your symptoms. If you don’t have PAD, smoking will increase your risk of developing the disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet is another effective change you can make to manage your symptoms. To help keep your cholesterol levels and blood pressure under control, you should minimize your consumption of saturated fats. Reducing your sodium intake or increasing your potassium intake can also help you keep your blood pressure under control.
Exercise plays a crucial role in the treatment of PAD. If you don’t exercise right now because walking, climbing stairs, and other common forms of exercise are painful, remember that it will get better. Getting no fewer than 2.5 hours of moderate cardio weekly will help your body use oxygen more efficiently, reducing your symptoms.
Bear in mind when you’re exercising that the more you walk, the less painful walking will become. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, consider downloading a pedometer app on your phone. It will track the distance you walk each day. If you walk farther one day than you did the day before, you can reward yourself with something enjoyable.
Foot care is also very important for people suffering from PAD. If you have both PAD and diabetes, there is a very high chance that any injuries or sores to your feet or lower legs will heal poorly. Very poor blood flow to the lower extremities can even prevent proper healing and increase the likelihood of an infection. If you suffer from PAD, you need to wash your feet daily and dry them completely. To prevent cracks, moisturize your feet daily.
It’s so important for people with PAD to prevent cracks from forming in their skin because cracks can result in an infection. However, you should not moisturize between your toes because this can lead to fungal growth. You also need to be very careful when trimming your nails, check your feet every day for injuries, and treat any fungal infections right away. You will also need to care for your feet by only wearing dry, thick socks and well-fitting shoes.
What Causes This Disease?
Most of the time, peripheral artery disease is caused by a buildup of fatty plaques on artery walls. This process reduces the volume of blood that can flow through the arteries. PAD develops when this process affects the arteries that deliver blood to the limbs. Other causes of PAD include exposure to radiation, muscle or ligament changes, arm or leg injuries, or inflammation of the blood vessels.
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing This Disease?
The two most significant risk factors for developing this disease are smoking and suffering from diabetes. High cholesterol and hypertension also increase your risk of developing this disease. Moreover, your risk of developing PAD is higher if you suffer from obesity. Age is another significant risk factor. If you have a high risk of developing atherosclerosis, you will have an increased risk of developing PAD over the age of 50.
If you do not have a high risk of atherosclerosis, your risk of developing PAD will increase once you are older than 65. Finally, you will have a higher risk of developing PAD if you have high levels of homocysteine in your blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that increases the risk of coronary artery disease.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Developing This Disease?
The most effective step you can take to reduce your risk of developing this disease is to stop smoking if you are a smoker. You can also drastically reduce your risk of developing this disease by losing weight if your body mass index is over 29.9. Ideally, you should maintain a healthy weight. Getting regular exercise can also reduce your risk of developing this disease. However, you should talk to your doctor about the best exercises for you.
What Is the Importance of Treating This Disease?
You must get treatment for peripheral artery disease: if you don’t, you can lose a leg. In addition to limb loss, if you leave this condition untreated, you may experience you may suffer from other medical conditions, like:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
Do I Suffer From PAD?
You need to attend an evaluation with a vascular expert to verify whether you suffer from PAD. Some of the most common symptoms of this disease include poor nail growth, poor wound healing, and pain that only occurs during exercise.
Painful muscle cramping is another common symptom of this condition. Usually, this cramping affects the calves, thighs, or hips while doing weight-bearing activities. Other signs of peripheral artery disease include:
- Loss of leg hair
- Warmer arms than legs
- Leg skin shininess
- Weakness or numbness in the legs
- Less detectable pulse in the feet
- Erectile dysfunction
You will need to undergo several tests to verify that you suffer from this disease. These may include:
- An ankle-brachial index (ABI) test
- A physical exam
- An ultrasound
- An angiography
- Blood tests
How Should I Prepare for My Appointment?
Before your appointment, you should write down any symptoms you are experiencing. Even if you don’t think your symptoms are relevant, they can help us make an accurate diagnosis. You should also write down every medication and dietary supplement you are currently taking. Make sure you note both the dosage and frequency of all drugs and supplements. Finally, note any questions you have about your condition.
What Questions Should I Ask During My Appointment?
Some of the most common questions we get include what is most likely to blame for my symptoms and what other conditions cause these symptoms. You also may want to ask questions about what kind of tests you’ll need and how to prepare for the necessary tests. You may also want to ask us about things you can do on your own to improve your symptoms.
What Questions Will I Be Asked?
There are several questions you will be asked during your appointment, including when you first noticed your symptoms and whether these symptoms are a constant part of your life or come and go. We will also ask you how severe your symptoms are and whether they are eased when resting or exacerbated when exercising. Furthermore, you will be asked if you use tobacco products. If you consume nicotine, we need to know how often you use them.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
There are several ways that peripheral artery disease can be treated. Some of the most common examples include statins to control cholesterol, blood pressure drugs, blood clot preventatives, and medications to treat leg pain. Contact us now at R Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View, CA to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raymond M Shaheen, MD and find out how your condition can best be treated.