What is peripheral artery disease (PAD)?
Peripheral artery disease is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. In this your extremities usually legs don't receive enough blood according to demand causing leg pain while walking (claudication).
Peripheral artery disease can also be more widespread causing accumulation of fatty deposits in arteries supplying blood to your heart, brain and legs.
What are causes of peripheral artery disease?
What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in leg or foot, especially when compared with other side
- Painful cramps in hip, thigh or muscles after activiry, such as walking or climbing stairs (Intermittent Claudication).
- Sores or wounds on toes, feet or legs that heals slowly
- Hair loss or slower hair growth on feet and legs
- Slower growth of toenails
- Change in color
- Shiny skin
- No pulse or a weak pulse in legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
What are the risk factors for peripheral artery disease?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Old age (>50 years of age)
- Family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke
How do we diagnose peripheral artery disease?
- Physical Examination - There is weak or absent pulse below a narrowed part of artery, decreased blood pressure in legs, or non healing ulcers.
- Ankle-Brachial Index (ABU) - ABI compares blood pressure in ankle with pressure in arm
- Ultrasound (Doppler) - Ultrasound is a painless non invasive procedure that assesses the degree of circulatory impairment by evaluating the blood flow through arteries.
- Angiography - This test involves injecting a dye in arteries and thus blood flow through arteries can be assessed
What are the treatment options for peripheral artery disease?
Exercise has been proven to create new blood vessels, and restore blood circulation in legs. Thus It is one of the most effective treatments for PAD. Even simple walking regimens, leg exercises and treadmill exercise programs three times a week can result in deceased symptoms in just four to eight weeks.
Tobacco smoking increases risk for PAD, heart attack and stroke. Smokers are four times more prone of developing PAD than nonsmokers.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are usually managed through medications in order to prevent progression of disease. Antiplatelet medications may also be prescribed to help prevent blood clots.
Surgical options - Angioplasty and surgery
In this procedure, a small hollow tube (catheter) is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. There, a small balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the artery wall, while at the same time stretching the artery open to increase blood flow. Your doctor may also insert a mesh framework called a stent in the artery to help keep it open. This is the same procedure doctors use to open heart arteries.
Surgical options - Bypass surgery
Your doctor may create a graft bypass using a vessel from another part of your body or a blood vessel made of synthetic fabric. This technique allows blood to flow around — or bypass the blocked or narrowed artery.
Surgical options - Thrombolytic therapy
If you have a blood clot blocking an artery, your doctor may inject a clotdissolving drug into your artery at the point of the clot to break it up.