Peripheral artery disease (PAD) results from the build-up of plaque (atherosclerosis) in the arteries of the legs. For most people with PAD, symptoms may be mild or absent, and no treatment of the artery blockages is required. However as these blockages become more extensive, patients may experience pain and disability that limits their walking, and in the most advanced cases individuals may be at risk for amputation unless circulation is improved.
PAD and Restricted Blood Flow
When you develop peripheral artery disease, deposits build up in your artery walls, just as they do in your coronary arteries. In fact, if you have coronary artery disease, you are at greater risk for developing PAD.
When you have PAD, narrowed, clogged arteries restrict blood flow to your body and limbs.
Muscle pain and cramping during walking or exercise occurs as PAD progresses. Sometimes a combination of severe PAD, diabetes and injury may result in wounds or ulcers. When blood flow is severely restricted, ulcerations and slowed wound healing compound the problem. The worst-case scenario: tissue death, gangrene and amputation.
Thankfully, various endovascular procedures can help prevent amputation and restore blood flow to damaged tissue. After treatment, blood flows once again to the limb and reverses injury to tissues.
By taking a personalized approach to each patient and injury site, Dr. Ashchi and his team at Ashchi Heart & Vascular Center offer a limb-saving option for some patients who have been told they face amputation.
What to Watch For
If you have been diagnosed with PAD, or if you have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease or diabetes, pay careful attention to the health of your legs and feet. These areas suffer first from insufficient blood flow.
- Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
- Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
- A pale or bluish color to the skin
- A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
- Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs
Tell your doctor if ulcers develop or are not healing so that he or she can look for the cause. In general, bad circulation sets the stage for problems. This makes typically temporary injuries or other factors much more serious, including:
- Bug bites
- Stopping prescribed medications
- New, badly fitting shoes
- Burns to the skin, such as those from walking on hot pavement. (Patients with diabetes can also suffer nerve damage that makes it harder to tell when water or surfaces are dangerously hot).
What to Do
If you have conditions that put you at increased risk for PAD, take action:
- Stop smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control diabetes and blood pressure with prescribed medications.
- Eat a healthy diet low in sodium and added sugars and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep physically active as much as possible.
Remember: Finding and treating P.A.D. early can help keep your legs healthy, lower your risk for heart attack or stroke, and save your life and limbs.
Our board certified interventional cardiologist and vascular specialist, Dr. Majdi Ashchi has an extensive experience with interventions to treat simple to complex vascular blockages such as clots or cholesterol plaques.
To make an appointment with our specialists, please contact us at (904) 222-6656 or visit DrAshchiHeart.com for our locations.
Source: Cleveland Clinic