P.A.D. occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries, causing them to harden and narrow, which is also known as atherosclerosis. Dr. Steven B. Laster, Board Certifies Interventional Cardiologist with Cardiovascular Consultants of St. Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, explains what causes P.A.D. and what steps you can take to prevent it.
Peripheral arterial disease refers to blockages away from the heart due to fatty build up or atherosclerosis. P.A.D. is often referred to with regards with lower extremity P.A.D. which involves blockages in the arteries in the leg.
P.A.D will often have no symptoms, however, one symptom is Claudication. Claudication is discomfort n the calf muscle or hip that occurs while walking. This occurs when muscles do not get enough blood due to a lack of oxygen and begin aching. In severe cases, patients can risk loosing their lower extremities due to this lack of blood flow. Some of the risk factors of P.A.D. are smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a family history of vascular disease.
One important reason for being screened for P.A.D is that it can help to determine if you have atherosclerosis, a body wide process of plaque build up. P.A.D can be diagnosed very easily, by simply feeling the pulses within the leg. There is also a test called the Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) which measure the ratio of blood pressure in your legs compared to your arm. Other tests that can be done include MRIs, Color Duplex Ultrasonography, Peripheral CTA, and Magnetic Resins Antigrams (MRA).
The most important way to treat P.A.D. includes the elimination of smoking and lowering of cholesterol. In order to treat Claudication you should immediately begin a walking program. If necessary, a patient maybe offered to undergo angioplasty or stenting in order to open up the blockage in the artery in the leg. In some cases, bypass surgery can be performed if angioplasty and stenting is not possible.
For more information go to www.cardiotabs.com