Posted October 19, 2013 by Carol Martin in Senior Living

Peripheral Artery Disease: Screening and early treatment can save your legs and your life

Frequent leg cramps, leg discomfort when walking and slow-to-heal sores on your feet are annoying, but did you know they can also be symptoms of a serious disease?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) happens when there is narrowing of the blood vessels (arteries) outside of the heart. Most regularly, PAD impacts the arteries in the pelvis and legs, but it can also impact the arteries in the arms, kidneys and stomach, as nicely as the aorta, a major blood vessel that comes from the heart and supplies blood to the rest of the physique. PAD in the legs occurs when the leg arteries turn into clogged with fatty deposits that can decrease blood flow to the legs and feet and, if left untreated, amputation may possibly be required in extreme circumstances.

PAD can also be a red flag that the same fatty deposit build-up is taking place in blood vessels elsewhere in your physique, putting you at a four to 5 times higher risk for obtaining a heart attack or stroke. PAD impacts 12 to 20 % of Americans age 65 or older, but only one particular-third of them have any symptoms, according to the American Heart Association. Even these who do experience PAD symptoms typically fail to mention them to their medical professional, so their PAD is left untreated.

Symptoms of PAD can incorporate: leg discomfort when walking, foot or toe discomfort that disturbs sleep, a reduce in body temperature in the reduce leg or foot, sores on legs or feet that are slow to heal, a adjust in the skin color of the legs or feet, and slower hair and toenail growth. If individuals expertise any of these symptoms, they should speak with their doctors instantly and ask to be screened for PAD.

&ldquoIt is crucial for patients to talk about any peripheral artery disease symptoms they might be obtaining with their well being care provider,&rdquo says Dr. Charles A. Simonton, chief health-related officer for vascular devices at Abbott, a international well being care organization. &ldquoPeople usually think their chronic leg discomfort is due to arthritis or just element of the aging approach, so their PAD goes undiagnosed. The earlier we can diagnosis PAD, the far better possibility we have of restoring the patient&rsquos blood flow in their legs and avoiding far more critical problems.&rdquo

A single of the most widespread tests for PAD is named ankle-brachial index (ABI), a straightforward, non-invasive test that can be accomplished in a physician’s office. In a typical ABI test, the doctor makes use of a blood stress cuff to measure the blood pressure in each arms and ankles at rest and then again after workout. Specific alterations in the blood pressure in between rest and workout can figure out if a patient has PAD. In addition, other tests could include a evaluation of your health-related history to realize problems such as family members history, diet program and smoking habits &ndash all of which can contribute to your danger of possessing PAD.

Whilst PAD can grow to be a extremely severe condition if left untreated, it also can be effectively treated by means of a quantity of approaches. Several patients are helped by merely rising their exercising and adopting a low fat diet. Some patients might want to take blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering drugs, or blood thinners. For stubborn blockages, a balloon catheter may possibly be inserted via a small incision in an artery to the place of the blockage and inflated to open the vessel. A stent – a tiny metal tube – could also be utilized to hold the artery open. For the most extreme situations, leg-vein bypass surgery or amputation may be required.

If you consider you could be at threat, speak with your overall health care provider about receiving screened for PAD.

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Carol Martin