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Peripheral Artery Disease is a silent killer. The Western diet contributes to significant plaque buildup in your arteries which can eventually cause a stroke, heart attack, and death. Call Dr. Uri Ben-Zur to schedule an appointment and talk about ways we can partner for your vascular health. No one knows more about cardiology and peripheral artery disease than Dr. Ben-Zur. We look forward to meeting you and joining our family.

Peripheral vascular disease is a disease of the arteries of the body other than the arteries in the heart or the brain and affects about 8% of the population. The most common area of peripheral vascular disease occurs in the legs. Just as in atherosclerosis of the heart vessels leading to coronary artery disease, the arteries of the leg can become clogged with cholesterol and make it difficult for blood to travel to those tissues of the leg.

pad_artery

Image shows an artery of the leg clogged with plaque. This makes it difficult for blood to reach the lower leg.

 

Peripheral artery disease usually affects people over the age of 60. However, there are several risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Age over 60
  • African American or Hispanic Race

 

Prevalence of PAD (%) by age group (years)

pad_chart

 

Symptoms:

The most common symptom of PAD is called claudication. Claudication refers to pain in the leg upon exertion that goes away after rest. It is important to note however, that 40% of individuals with PAD do not experience any leg pain at all. Pain can also be found in the buttock, hip, or thigh upon exertion. Physical signs in the leg that may indicate peripheral arterial disease include muscle atrophy, hair loss, smooth shiny skin, skin that is cool to the touch especially if accompanied by pain while walking (which is relieved by stopping walking), decreased or absent pulses in the feet, non-healing ulcers or sores in the legs or feet, and cold or numb toes.

Preventing PAD

  • Physical activity and exercise are important for preventing PAD and for improving symptoms of PAD.
  • Avoid use of tobacco—smoking increases the risk of PAD by 2-6 times and it worsens the symptoms of PAD.
  • Control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Supervised exercise training programs can improve and prolong walking distance in individuals with PAD.

Diagnosis and Treatment of PAD:

In patients with symptoms of PAD, the ankle-brachial index (ABI) is a non-invasive test that measures the blood pressure in the ankles and compares it with the blood pressure in the arms at rest and after exercise. Imaging tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and computed tomographic (CT) angiography can provide additional information in diagnosing PAD.

 

  • Individuals with PAD are at risk for developing coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.5
  • Aspirin or other similar anti-platelet medications may prevent the development of serious complications from PAD and associated atherosclerosis.3,5
  • All efforts must be made to stop smoking.
  • Severe cases may require surgery to bypass blocked arteries.

 

References and further reading:

http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_pad.htm

 

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