Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a condition that describes the buildup of plaque in the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. If left untreated, the build-up of plaque can cause arteries to harden and narrow. This makes it more difficult for blood to travel through the body, especially to the legs and ankles. PAD most commonly occurs in the legs and ankles, but it can also have negative effects on the arteries to your stomach, head, kidneys, and arms. PAD increases the risk for a variety of serious health conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and even death.
Testing for PAD is actually very simple. It requires blood pressure of the arms and legs to be compared for major differences, also known as an ankle-branchial index (ABI). If the blood pressure in your legs is higher than the blood pressure of your arms, there’s a good chance it’s a result of PAD.
So, Who Treats PAD?
Your primary care physician can treat mild cases of PAD through positive lifestyle changes like managing your diabetes, blood pressure, or cholesterol. However, if the condition is more severe, your doctor may refer you to a vascular specialist. Vascular specialists are experienced in treating many blood vessel conditions. A cardiologist may also be involved in the diagnosis process. Cardiologists mainly focus on problems with the heart, like heart disease or heart attack, which can occur as a result of untreated PAD.
Vascular specialists that are interventional radiologists, are able to treat PAD through nonsurgical, outpatient treatments. These can help you avoid a lengthy hospital stay.
What to Expect
There are two main goals of treating PAD: to relieve symptoms and to prevent further buildup of plaque in the arteries. If your condition is mild, your doctor may prescribe some lifestyle changes or medication as an effort to stop your condition from requiring treatment. They may advise you take medications for cholesterol lowering, high blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood clot prevention. Symptom relief medications may also be recommended. Your doctor will likely ask you some questions about your lifestyle to determine if the cause is preventable. For example, they may ask if you smoke and advise you to quit immediately to prevent the PAD from getting worse.
If your peripheral artery disease has progressed further, your vascular specialist may recommend stent angioplasty. Stent angioplasty is used to open the artery to allow for successful blood flow and circulation. At USA Vascular Centers, stent angioplasty is a simple, office-based procedure that can help restore your mobility once again.
Learn more about stent angioplasty by clicking here.
Don’t Avoid Treatment
If you are experiencing pain while walking or going up stairs, leg pain that disturbs your sleep, poor leg hair or toenail growth, or slow/non-healing wounds on your legs, consult with your doctor right away. They can determine the cause of your symptoms, diagnose any conditions, and if needed, refer you to a specialist that can help you find relief. Older people commonly avoid treatment because they assume the symptoms are just a result of old age. Peripheral artery disease is important to diagnose and treat as soon as possible in its early stages. Regardless of your age, you should never be experiencing consistent pain in your legs or ankles.
Find Peripheral Artery Disease Doctors Near You
At USA Vascular Centers, we have a expansive team of Peripheral Vascular Disease doctors dedicated to providing top-quality vascular care to all patients. Each of our PAD doctors are exclusively skilled in performing treatment for PAD, especially stent angioplasty. Reach out to us at 888.773.2193 to find out how we can help you find relief from your debilitating PAD symptoms.