Peripheral artery disease (PAD) most often affects the blood vessels in your legs, causing pain when walking and increasing your risk of arterial ulcers. The experienced physicians at Advanced Vascular Surgery throughout Michigan, offer free and low-cost peripheral artery disease screenings and effective, personalized PAD treatment. If you have PAD symptoms or risk factors, call Advanced Vascular Surgery or request an appointment online today.
Your arteries, which take blood from your heart around your body, are normally smooth and clear on the inside. However, as you age, they can become blocked with a sticky substance (plaque) that builds up in the artery walls, making the blood vessels narrow and stiff (atherosclerosis).
Peripheral artery disease develops when enough plaque accumulates to reduce blood flow to your leg arteries. When that happens, your legs can’t get the oxygen they need. You might experience intermittent claudication — fatigue, pain, and cramping in your legs and lower body when you walk that stops when you rest.
As the disease progresses, claudication worsens until, eventually, it keeps you awake at night. Your legs may feel cold and numb, and dry, scaly, cracked skin or sores might develop on your lower legs.
Sores can become arterial ulcers — open wounds that resist healing and are likely to become infected. Infection can lead to gangrene, where tissue death occurs, and the only solution is amputation.
To diagnose PAD, your Advanced Vascular Surgery provider listens to your symptoms, takes your medical history, and performs a complete physical exam. If they suspect PAD, they do an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test that compares the blood pressure in your legs and arms. You might require other tests, such as:
They might also do blood tests to measure your cholesterol levels.
PAD treatment begins with lifestyle changes. The primary cause of PAD is high cholesterol, which leads to plaque build-up and atherosclerosis. Lifestyle changes reduce cholesterol and help to relieve PAD symptoms. These changes include:
Other potential treatments for PAD include medications to reduce claudication, lower your risk of blood clots, and control your cholesterol levels. Wound care for ulcers arising from PAD involves debridement (dead tissue removal), cleansing, and applying specialized dressings.
Some patients might require further interventions to clear the blockage and improve blood flow. Balloon angioplasty with stenting and atherectomy are minimally invasive procedures the Advanced Vascular Surgery team performs using catheterization. It involves passing a long, slim tube (catheter) along the artery and either flattening or scraping away the plaque.
For the most severe cases of PAD, the team might perform bypass surgery.
To find the best solution to your peripheral artery disease symptoms, call Advanced Vascular Surgery or book an appointment online today.