Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
The peripheral arteries are the arteries that carry oxygenated blood from your heart to your arms and legs. Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which the peripheral arteries become narrowed or blocked as a result of the accumulation of plaque (fats and cholesterol) in the arteries. The narrowing of the peripheral arteries makes it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries to your arms and legs.
This disease limits blood flow to your legs or arms, causing the tissue in these areas to lack oxygen and nutrients to function effectively. It could even lead to tissue damage or death. PAD disease usually occurs in the legs but can also occur in the arms.
Peripheral Artery Disease Symptoms
A common symptom of this disease is leg pain or cramping when walking (claudication). The pain could be mild or severe. Pain can also occur when you’re at rest, particularly when the disease gets worse. The location of the narrowed peripheral artery will determine the actual area where you will feel the pain.
Other symptoms include:
- Numbness or weakness
- Feeling of coldness in the lower leg
- Sores (ulcers) on the legs, toes, or feet or legs that are difficult to heal
- Leg discoloration
- Shiny skin on the legs
- Hair loss on the feet and legs
- Slower growth of the toenails
- Loss of pulse or a weak pulse in the legs
- Pain when using the arms
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Peripheral Artery Disease Causes
It is usually caused by a buildup of plaques (fats and cholesterol) on the walls of the peripheral artery. These plaques slowly accumulate on the walls of your peripheral artery and slowly narrow the artery.
Other less common causes include:
- Blood vessel inflammation
- Blood clot
- Injury to your limbs
- Unusual anatomy of your ligaments or muscles
- Radiation exposure
Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease
Certain factors increase your risk of developing PAD. These include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Having a blood clotting disorder
- Having kidney disease
- Increasing age, 50 or older
- History of peripheral artery disease or heart disease in the family
- High levels of homocysteine
Peripheral Artery Disease Treatments in Waco, TX
Treatment for PAD is aimed at improving symptoms and stopping the progression of the disease.
Treatment options include:
Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising, and maintaining healthy body weight, particularly at the early stage of the disease can help improve your condition.
Medications that may be prescribed for the treatment of PAD include:
This medication increases blood flow to the limbs. It helps to keep the blood thin and widen the arteries. It is used to treat leg pain associated with PAD. Pentoxifylline can also serve as an alternative to cilostazol.
2. Cholesterol-lowering medications
Cholesterol-lowering drugs help to reduce bad cholesterol in your body and also reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. An example of a cholesterol-lowering drug is a statin.
3. High blood pressure medications
These medications help to lower high blood pressure. The goal of this treatment is to make your blood pressure less than 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Some examples of high blood pressure medications include benazepril hydrochloride, captopril, enalapril Maleate, and fosinopril sodium.
4. Medication to control blood sugar
People with diabetes will need medications to control their blood sugar.
5. Medications to prevent blood clots
Blood-thinning medications help to prevent blood clots to improve blood flow. Warfarin is a common blood-thinning medication.
6. Thrombolytic therapy
If the blood clot is blocking an artery, a clot-dissolving drug may be injected into your artery at the point of the clot. The drug will dissolve the clot to allow blood flow.
If lifestyle changes and medications don’t improve your condition, surgery may be recommended. Surgical procedures that may be recommended for the treatment include:
1. Angioplasty and stenting
This procedure is done to keep the artery open. It involves the placement of a deflated balloon into the narrowed artery. When the balloon is in place inside the narrowed artery, it is inflated to widen the artery. A stent or a small mesh tube is then placed in the artery to keep it open.
2. Bypass surgery
This procedure creates an alternative route for blood to flow through. A new pathway will be created around the blocked artery using a healthy artery harvested from another part of your body or a synthetic one.
What is the best exercise for peripheral artery disease?
Walking is the best exercise for PAD. Walking can help improve blood flow to your legs and improve mobility.
What is the best sleeping position for peripheral artery disease?
The best sleeping position is sleeping on your back while slightly elevating your legs to improve blood circulation.
Pain relief for Peripheral artery disease?
Drugs such as cilostazol or pentoxifylline are usually prescribed for pain relief to patients with peripheral artery disease.
Can PAD be cured?
PAD can’t be cured. Treatment is aimed at improving symptoms and stopping the progression of the disease.
Is PAD related to heart disease?
Yes, It is related to heart disease because you’re at risk of developing heart disease if you have peripheral artery disease.
Is PAD a type of peripheral vascular disease?
It is also called peripheral vascular disease.
Is walking good for PAD?
Yes. Walking is good for PAD. Walking is one of the best exercises for people with PAD.
How quickly does PAD progress?
It progresses slowly over time.
What are the stages of peripheral artery disease?
1. First stage (Asymptomatic stage)
This is the early stage of the disease. At this stage, patients don’t experience any symptoms. Patients may not be aware that they have the disease.
2. Second stage (Claudication)
Cramping and pain that gets better upon rest but returns when you’re walking, climbing, or running.
3. Third stage (Critical limb ischemia)
This is the stage where you experience pain even at rest. You may experience other symptoms. Ulcers or gangrene may develop in one or both legs.
4. Fourth stage (Acute limb ischemia)
This is the advanced stage whereby a patient has undergone multiple procedures to restore blood flow but treatment has failed. The disease has progressed to its advanced stage where it may require limb amputation.