Cold toes or feet, pain while walking, and night time leg pain – the Vascular Surgeons of Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville want you to know that these symptoms are very common among PAD patients.
What is PAD?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), which was previously known as peripheral vascular disease, is a common circulatory problem. It happens when there is narrowing of the arteries. It eventually leads to reduction of the blood flow to the limbs.
Although the blockage can happen to the arteries going to the hands or arms, the most common blockage usually happens to the lower extremities.
How is PAD diagnosed?
Millions of Americans have PAD, but many are unaware that they have it because they may not have any symptoms. In many cases, PAD is detected during a physical examination.
Claudication, a very distinct symptom of PAD, is muscle pain or cramping triggered by physical activities like walking. The location of the pain coincides with the site of the blockage. The most common site is the calf.
Aside from claudication, the doctor may also determine the ankle-brachial index (ABI). It’s a painless exam that compares blood pressure in the feet to that of the arm. Normally, the ankle pressure is at least 90 percent of the arm’s blood pressure. This can be less than 50 percent for those with PAD, which signifies severe narrowing.
If there is an abnormal ratio between the feet and arm pressure, your doctor will likely recommend more tests to confirm a diagnosis of PAD.
Is PAD life-threatening?
When blood flow is severely compromised, a condition called ischemia can develop. Ischemia increases the risk for infection, which can lead to gangrene (tissue death and decay). Many cases of gangrene requires amputation, but Premier Surgical’s team of Vascular Surgeons are trained in techniques to restore blood flow and salvage limbs.
Aside from infection, PAD also increases the risk for coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.
If you suspect that you have PAD, talk to your physician about being referred to a vascular specialist. Premier Surgical’s Vascular Surgeons work closely with PAD patients to teach them to manage their vascular disease with diet, lifestyle changes and medication. If your PAD is more severe, interventional treatment to open blockages and restore blood flow are available. .
Not sure if you have PAD? Check out our Premier Surgical PAD Checklist today! https://www.premiersurgical.com/wp-content/uploads/Checklist_PAD-are-you-at-risk-PDF-1.pdf