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The Importance of Early Detection for PAD

The Importance of Early Detection for PAD

Peripheral artery disease is a serious vascular condition that causes plaque build-up in the arteries. If left untreated or undiagnosed, this build-up can restrict circulation, inevitably impacting your quality of life and overall mobility. 

PAD affects around eight to 12 million individuals in the United States every year.¹ The problem is many of these individuals don’t show any early symptoms of PAD. Diagnosing PAD early and being aware of the warning signs is the best way to protect yourself and get necessary treatment before your symptoms progress. 

Is Early Diagnosis of PAD Important? 

Yes, diagnosing PAD early can prevent heart disease, stroke, and amputation. It can also minimize any unnecessary pain or discomfort associated with the condition. 

What is PAD?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. The plaque build-up causes the arteries to narrow over time, preventing blood, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching your lower extremities. 

Patients most at risk for developing early symptoms of PAD have:

  • High blood pressure 
  • Diabetes 
  • History of vascular diseases 
  • High cholesterol

Smokers and individuals over the age of 50 are also at risk of developing PAD. At-risk patients should consider scheduling a consultation with a vascular specialist at USA Vascular Centers for a proper examination.  


Early Signs and Symptoms of PAD

Most symptoms of PAD occur in the lower extremities. The most common symptoms patients experience are difficulty walking or leg pain. Other symptoms to look out for include:

  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Leg discoloration
  • Loss of hair on legs
  • Hip or calf pain 
  • Erectile dysfunction  
  • Claudication or cramping
  • Shiny skin on the legs
  • Non-healing wounds or ulcers 

Even if you aren’t exhibiting any early symptoms of PAD, you should still consider scheduling a consultation to discuss your vascular health. More than half of PAD patients experience atypical symptoms, and 1 in 5 patients don’t exhibit any early signs of PAD.² Diagnosing PAD early can be beneficial to your overall health and prevent the need for surgical intervention later down the line.


How PAD Negatively Affects Daily Life

PAD is a progressive disease, but when it’s caught in the early stages, it’s easily treatable. Individuals who ignore their early signs of PAD will slowly find everyday tasks to be more challenging. 

Peripheral artery disease directly impacts mobility, making it hard to go on walks, climb stairs, and perform everyday tasks. Patients may also experience paralysis in the affected limb or notice wounds that don’t heal.

If PAD goes undiagnosed, it could lead to serious health complications. People with PAD are at higher risk of stroke, heart disease, and gangrene.³ Gangrene is the death of body tissue caused by a lack of blood flow. Individuals who develop gangrene due to PAD are at risk of amputation. 

How PAD Negatively Affects Daily Life

Why it’s Important to Test Early for PAD

One of the benefits of early PAD detection is that you can prevent serious health complications. Early detection can also help you make meaningful lifestyle modifications, leading to a healthier, better you.

While PAD cannot be reversed, individuals who commit to healthier choices and lifestyle changes can improve their quality of life and reduce any unwanted pain and discomfort caused by the early symptoms of PAD. Incorporating a balanced diet and exercise routine can significantly enhance vascular health.

However, early detection and diagnosis are equally vital in monitoring vascular health, especially as you age or possess more risk factors. Regular check-ups and screenings can help identify PAD and other vascular issues early on, enabling timely interventions and better management of the condition.

At USA Vascular Centers, we’re here to help you diagnose and treat your early symptoms of PAD. Our vascular specialists are here to help you navigate the complexities of this disease and create a custom treatment plan tailored according to the severity of your condition. 

Tests For Early Detection of PAD

If you’re an at-risk patient who’s not showing any symptoms of PAD, it is still important to get diagnosed. Getting tested can give you peace of mind and reduce your chances of undetected PAD leading to heart attack, stroke, or amputation.

At USA Vascular Centers, we perform four types of tests for a PAD diagnosis. This includes:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): A minimally invasive test that compares blood pressure in your ankle versus your arm. 
  • Angiography: A contrast agent is injected into the arteries, and a vascular specialist takes X-ray images to measure blood flow and identify blockages. 
  • Ultrasound: Uses sound waves to measure blood flow and look for artery blockages.
  • Blood tests: Blood work is taken to check cholesterol levels.

After an evaluation, our team will discuss the different treatment options available.

Tests For Early Detection of PAD

USA Vascular Centers Treatment Options

If you’re diagnosed with PAD, a vascular specialist will likely recommend specific lifestyle changes, medication, and minimally invasive treatment. We perform three different types of minimally-invasive treatments at our facility, which include:

  • Angioplasty: A small balloon is inserted into the artery and then expands to compress plaque against the artery walls. 
  • Stent placement: After performing an angioplasty, a stent is placed to keep the artery open and prevent more blockages from forming. 
  • Atherectomy: A laser or rotating catheter is inserted into the affected artery to remove plaque from the body physically.

Minimally invasive treatments have a shorter recovery time and a lower risk of complications. Most patients recover in one to two weeks after treatment. 

Diagnosing PAD Early with USA Vascular Centers

There are many benefits of early PAD detection. If you have one or more risk factors or you’re experiencing early symptoms of PAD, schedule a consultation with a vascular specialist today. Our team is here to diagnose and treat your condition. 


Sources Cited

  1. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, National Institutes of Health, & National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Facts about Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.). In National Institutes of Health
  2. Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms | NHLBI, NIH. (2022, March 24). NHLBI, NIH.
  3. What is Peripheral Artery Disease? (2024, February 8). www.heart.org.

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