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Common Complications of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

PAD complications

Peripheral artery disease or PAD is a vascular circular disorder that causes the arteries outside of your heart and brain to narrow down and obstruct the flow of blood. Legs are the most common location for the narrowing of arteries outside of your heart and brain. When the arteries in your legs are blocked, the resulting disease is known as Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. The disease is also known by other names such as hardening of arteries, atherosclerosis, vascular disease and circular problem. 

Extreme PAD complication – Gangrene 

In the case of gangrene, the affected portion of the leg may need to surgically cut and removed by the doctor (amputation) to prevent the spread of infection to other healthy body parts. Gangrene is a common symptom of critical limb ischemia or CLI.[4]CLI is the most advanced form of peripheral artery disease which is associated with physical as well as psychological consequences, including amputation and depression. The patient is restricted in physical functions, and many of them may have prolonged wait time before any medical treatment is initiated.[5]  

Heart attack and stroke due to PAD 

Peripheral artery disease also exposes you to the risk of chest pain, heart attack and stroke as the heart and brain may not get their adequate blood supply and struggle to get their required supply of nutrients and oxygen.[6] 

Effect of PAD on other organs 

When PAD develops, the blood supply to your legs is reduced and you feel pain while climbing, exercising, running or walking as your legs struggle to get their needed supply of oxygen and nutrients. Besides legs, PAD can also affect arms, intestine and kidneys.[7]

About 8.5 million people in the US are affected from PAD.[8] More than 20% people older than the age of 65 all over the world are considered to be suffering from peripheral artery disease.[9] 

Risk factors of PAD

  • Being a diabetic 
  • Age over 60
  • High blood pressure 
  • Smoking 
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • High cholesterol 
  • Abnormal cholesterol level 

Injury to legs or arms, the irregular structure of muscles and infection can also cause you peripheral artery disease. 

Common PAD symptoms 

Intermittent claudication or pain that usually occurs in the calf while walking or exercising and subsides at rest is the most common symptom of peripheral artery disease. Other common symptoms of PAD disease include weak pulse in legs and feet, pain at night while lying flat, wounds in legs that won’t heal over pressure points, hair loss on legs, and numbness or heaviness in muscles. 

When you have PAD in legs and feet, it can result in reduced hair growth, severe burning, the blue color of skin, wounds and ulcers that do not heal easily. PAD in muscles will make your legs feel numb and heavy. 

Common PAD symptoms are usually dismissed as the effects of aging, that results in delayed diagnosis in most cases as the patient and doctor may treat them for some other condition. So, it is important to consult a specialist if you have unexplained, cramping pain your legs or suspect peripheral artery disease for some reason. 

How Stent Treatment Can Help Stop the Progression of PAD

At the USA Vascular Centers, we provide non-surgical PAD treatment, leveraging the latest technological innovations in PAD disease treatment. Our non-surgical PAD treatment or balloon angioplasty with stenting involves the use of a balloon catheter and stent (wire mesh) to restore normal circulation through your blocked artery. 

A small nick will be made in your groin to insert a catheter or small tube with a mounted camera. The catheter insertion area will be numbed so that you do not feel any pain while the catheter is being inserted, while you will be generally awake to follow our interventional radiologist’s instructions. 

The camera on the catheter sends live images to a big screen which will be seen by our interventional radiologist. A contrast dye will then be injected through the catheter that will help the doctor see the location and size of the blockage. Once the blockage is identified, the doctor will then take the next step in your non-surgical PAD treatment. 

Outpatient Procedure with Quick Recovery Time 

This non-surgical PAD treatment at our peripheral artery disease treatment center is usually completed within a couple of hours in a painless way. You will then be moved to an observation room to ensure that there are no complications or infections. You will most likely be discharged within 24 hours of your non-surgical peripheral disease treatment. The outpatient procedure has quick recovery time and you will be able to start your routine activities within a week of being discharged. Your PAD symptoms and complications will be gradually improved and you will be able to enjoy normal mobility in your daily life. 

If you are interested in a preliminary investigation of your peripheral artery disease or looking for non-surgical PAD treatment, call us at 888-773-2193, or schedule your online appointment with our specialist.

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[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/peripheral-vascular-disease  
[2][9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232436/  
[3] https://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0401/p1899.html  
[4] https://www.umcvc.org/conditions-treatments/pad-treatments  
[5] http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/68/18/2002   
[6] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/complications-of-peripheral-vascular-disease  
[7][8] https://www.healthline.com/health/peripheral-vascular-disease   
 [10] https://www.umcvc.org/conditions-treatments/pad-treatments 

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