Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a relatively common condition. An estimated 8 to 12 million Americans live with this disease. Both men and women can be equally affected by this condition.
While you often feel the symptoms of peripheral artery disease in your legs, the disease itself has more to do with circulation. There are several reasons why your circulation may not allow blood to flow to your legs.
Doctors Andrew Doe and Kamal Khalil at Alate Health in Houston, Texas, offer this helpful information about peripheral artery disease.
Why peripheral artery disease is serious
Peripheral artery disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease, indicates a problem with your heart function. With peripheral artery disease, your arteries narrow, including the ones that carry blood to your legs. Although it is not the same as coronary artery disease, the two conditions are often present at the same time.
Peripheral artery disease can cause severe effects if left untreated, including limb amputation. PAD can indicate that you have an advanced risk of developing other heart-related problems, such as heart attack or a stroke.
Warning signs of peripheral artery disease
Some people with PAD have no symptoms at all. This may especially be the case early in the condition. However, if you do have symptoms, the following are warning signs to take seriously:
- Leg pain, which may be constant or intermittent. Many people report that PAD starts with pain or a cramp in the calves.
- Pain in your hips, thighs, or buttocks, especially while walking or exercising
- Cool skin on your feet
- Aching or burning pain in your feet, especially while you are lying down at night
- Sores on your legs or feet that don’t heal quickly
- Skin color changes to your legs and feet
- Increased likelihood of infections
- Slow toenail growth and leg hair growth
- Erectile dysfunction (as a result of related blood flow issues)
Some people are also at a higher risk of developing peripheral artery disease. African-Americans risk of developing the disease is double. Those with a family history of heart disease also have a significantly higher risk.
It’s easier to control some other risk factors. Smokers have a much higher chance of developing all types of heart disease, including peripheral artery disease. Other risk factors for PAD include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being physically inactive.
How we treat peripheral artery disease
Although peripheral artery disease is serious, it is also treatable. The first steps are to look at your lifestyle and recommend changes that you can make. We also perform testing to determine the extent of the blockage in your legs and where they are located.
We can treat many types of peripheral artery disease on an outpatient basis in our office. These procedures only require light sedation rather than full anesthesia. Some of the treatments used for PAD include the following:
- Balloon angioplasty. In this procedure, we inject a small balloon into the vein at the site of the blockage. The balloon is slowly inflated to provide a clearer pathway for blood to flow through your veins.
- Atherectomy. This newer procedure uses a small device to remove the plaque buildup from your veins directly.
- Stents. Placing a stent is not usually the first option for treating PAD. However, in some patients, we can put a stent to keep the leg arteries open. You will also need to take blood thinners along with this treatment.
Having peripheral artery disease can be painful. It’s a serious condition, but with the proper care, you can manage it. If you have symptoms, call our Houston office today at 713-587-6458 or request an appointment online.