How Is PAD Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing leg pain and cramping when walking around or climbing stairs, we recommend contacting your doctor for evaluation. This symptom, known as claudication, may indicate the presence of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
PAD is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. It is considered a serious disease and usually develops when plaque builds up in your arteries. Over time, the buildup of plaque can impact blood circulation, cause a range of painful or uncomfortable symptoms, and place you in danger of heart attack, stroke, and amputation. It is essential to understand that you can have PAD, but not realize it.
How is PAD diagnosed? First, your doctor will discuss your symptoms in detail and perform a physical exam. If PAD is suspected, they will order appropriate tests to diagnose PAD, which may include medical imaging. If you are diagnosed with PAD, visiting a vascular specialist can help you learn about available treatment options.
What Tests Are Performed To Diagnose PAD?
There are several ways to confirm a PAD diagnosis. To begin, your doctor will look for weak pulses in your limbs. They will also examine your legs and arms for other common signs of PAD like skin changes, open wounds, lack of hair, coldness, and poor nail growth. Finally, your doctor may request one or more of the following tests:
Ankle-brachial index (ABI): Most commonly, an ABI exam is used to diagnose PAD. This minimally invasive test takes only a few minutes and compares the blood pressure in your ankle with that of your arm. A medical professional uses a regular blood pressure cuff, along with a specialized ultrasound device, to look for poor blood flow and other PAD signs. You may be asked to walk on a treadmill so readings can be captured before and after exercising.
Ultrasound: This type of medical imaging uses sound waves to see inside your body. A small, hand-held device called a transducer or probe is placed on the skin, allowing your doctor or a technician to look within your arteries, measure blood flow, and determine whether there is a blockage that requires treatment.
Angiography: Angiography is a type of medical imaging that involves injecting a contrast agent (a type of dye) into the arteries. Afterward, X-ray images are taken to measure blood flow and look for arterial blockages that indicate PAD. Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) and Computerized Tomography (CT) Angiography can also be helpful for PAD diagnosis and evaluation.
Blood tests: Since high cholesterol levels and diabetes are risk factors for PAD, your doctor may request laboratory blood work to check for these related conditions.
Have You Been Diagnosed With PAD?
We understand that a PAD diagnosis can be concerning and somewhat overwhelming. After all, blood circulation is critical to your health.
If you have been diagnosed with PAD, there is help available. We offer effective, minimally invasive treatments that can alleviate painful symptoms, improve your mobility, and reduce your risks of developing additional potentially life-threatening health issues.
PAD Treatment: What To Do After a PAD Diagnosis
After a peripheral artery disease diagnosis, we generally recommend visiting a vascular specialist to learn about your treatment options. With the help of an expert, a customized plan can be developed based on disease severity and your medical history. Your treatment plan may be focused on three main areas:
- Lifestyle modifications: Individuals can often take control of their vascular health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and working with doctors to manage diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Medications: You may be prescribed medications to thin your blood and improve circulation throughout your body.
- Special procedures: In some cases, a specialized procedure such as Stent Angioplasty may be recommended to address blockages in the arteries.
Our vascular specialists care about your health, mobility, and overall quality of life. We encourage you to visit us at USA Vascular Centers as soon as possible for personalized recommendations.
Schedule Your Consultation at USA Vascular Today
Our non-surgical treatment approach can quickly alleviate your pain and discomfort, help you regain mobility, and reduce your risk of developing life-threatening health issues.
To get started on your path toward recovery, schedule a consultation with one of our top-rated vascular specialists today. We look forward to meeting you.