You may be tempted to put off treatment if you’ve recently been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease or suspect you have it. Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is marked by plaque buildup in the arteries that causes decreased blood flow to the lower extremities. Moderate cases often require minimally invasive procedures such as stent placement or angioplasty to widen narrowed passageways.
The procedures are short and need little recovery time, but you may still feel hesitant to take time off work or skip a planned vacation with friends. Whatever the case, it’s important to understand the risks associated with leaving PAD untreated. It may be time to schedule a visit with one of our board-certified vascular specialists at USA Vascular Centers to learn more about PAD therapy.
What are the Consequences of Peripheral Artery Disease Going Untreated?
The longer you wait to receive PAD treatment, the fewer options for treatment are available to you, and the longer you will needlessly struggle with the uncomfortable symptoms of PAD. Many patients find out they have PAD because they notice pain in their legs. In some people, this pain occurs while walking or climbing stairs.
“For me, the pain was intense enough to last all day, even waking me up throughout the night,” says Robert, a recent patient treated for PAD
Untreated peripheral artery disease can limit your mobility, cause you pain, and even develop open sores on your legs, feet, and ankles. When you notice pain and cramping in your legs and receive a PAD diagnosis, the PAD is almost certainly in a moderate to an advanced stage. The top three minimally invasive procedures performed for PAD are angioplasty, stent placement, and atherectomy.
“If you leave PAD untreated and wait too long to undergo one of these non-surgical procedures, you may instead need a more intensive surgery,” cautions Dr. Aaron Shiloh, an Interventional Radiologist at USA Vascular Centers in the Pennsylvania area.
Severe cases of PAD may require that the patient undergo peripheral artery bypass surgery,1 in which a surgeon takes a healthy blood vessel from elsewhere in your body and uses it to reroute blood flow away from the clogged artery.
Critical Limb Ischemia, Gangrene and Amputation
Untreated peripheral artery disease can also lead to serious PAD complications. Critical limb ischemia (CLI) signifies that blood flow to the foot or leg is completely blocked.
CLI often leads to gangrene and amputation of the affected limb, a difficult yet necessary step to save the patient’s life. PAD is the most common cause of limb loss overall, with the rate of dysvascular amputation being nearly 8 times greater than the rate of trauma-related amputations, the second leading cause of limb loss.
Increased Risk of Stroke
Plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in the arteries that lead to your legs signifies that you most likely have atherosclerosis in other arteries, including those leading to the heart and brain.
This is why PAD patients are at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.2 Untreated peripheral artery disease can even lead to death.
People may not be as aware of PAD as other vascular conditions, such as coronary artery disease (CAD). Still, because it comes with the potential for dangerous complications, PAD should be treated promptly. The good news is that receiving timely treatment with one of our expert vascular doctors can help you avoid PAD complications.
How to Avoid PAD Complications
Even though some people with PAD do develop noticeable symptoms early on, many don’t notice that anything is wrong until the PAD is past its early stages. Some PAD patients never experience the common symptoms of leg pain and cramping, even at advanced stages of the disease.
Risk Factors for PAD
It’s critical to examine the risk factors for PAD and see if you may be at increased risk of developing the condition. The most common risk factors include
- High cholesterol,
- High blood pressure
If you have any PAD risk factors and are over the age of 50, it’s time to schedule an appointment with one of our vascular doctors to receive a PAD screening.
Because the arteries weaken as we age if you are over the age of 60, it’s prudent to undergo a screening for PAD,. Those experiencing classic PAD symptoms, such as leg pain while exercising and slowed toenail growth, should also seek an appointment at one of our centers.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Our doctors at USA Vascular Centers can diagnose PAD by conducting an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test or an angiogram to determine whether or not you have the condition. Treatment for PAD can be a relatively quick and smooth process, and it can be life-changing for PAD sufferers. Suppose our doctors determine that you need one of our minimally invasive treatments. In that case, you’ll be in the office for approximately two hours from the beginning of the procedure to the end of your post-procedure observation.
PAD Treatment Options
At USA Vascular Centers, we offer angioplasty, stent placement, and atherectomy procedures. Each of these uses a tiny incision and a small catheter to achieve the desired results.
Angioplasty is a treatment that involves widening narrowed arteries with a special balloon. During a stent placement, your vascular doctor will put a mesh stent inside the clogged area to keep it from narrowing again during a stent placement. An atherectomy involves using a tiny blade or a laser to safely remove plaque from the clogged artery.
Most patients can return to their normal activities within about a week after any one of these procedures. Instead of leaving your PAD untreated, visit our expert doctors to receive treatment.
The USA Vascular Centers Experience
At USA Vascular Centers, we strive to make your treatment a smooth experience. All of our locations are accredited by the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), which means that our doctors constantly meet and exceed the highest standards of patient care.
We also qualify for Medicare and Medicaid through our AAAHC accreditation. If you live out of town, our lodging offers a comfortable place for you to stay before and after your treatment. With a personalized care plan tailored to your needs, our doctors will help you step back into a life of doing what you love.