Peripheral Artery Disease in Dallas
What is P.A.D.?
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), also known as Peripheral Vascular Disease, is a very common medical condition in which a build-up of plaque due to atherosclerosis makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the arteries. PAD primarily affects the legs, but can also damage arteries in the kidneys, abdomen, feet, ankles, pelvis, hips, buttocks and arms.
What causes PAD?
Peripheral artery disease is caused by atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque (fatty deposits and cholesterol) on the walls of the arteries. Over time, the arteries can become so narrow that it is difficult for blood to flow through to bring oxygen to the muscles, tissue and organs. Clots can form when plaque breaks off and enters the bloodstream.
What are the risk factors for PAD?
Diabetes is one of the most common risk factors for PAD, especially in patients over 50 years old.
Other risk factors include:
What are the symptoms of PAD?
Not everyone has symptoms in the early stages of PAD. However, the most common symptoms are pain, cramping and discomfort in the legs, calves, thighs or buttocks. The pain occurs when walking, climbing stairs or exercising and usually goes away during rest.
The legs may also feel cold or numb, tired, weak, achy or heavy. There might be a tingling that wakes you up at night. In addition, the skin on your legs may become discolored.
What is intermittent claudication?
Pain and discomfort that goes away when you rest is called intermittent claudication. It is a symptom of PAD. Eventually the pain may be present all the time, which can limit your quality of life and ability to be active.
How is PAD diagnosed?
Your doctor will initially check the pulse in your feet and perform a non-invasive test called ankle brachial pressure index (ABI).
ABI is used to compare the blood pressure in your arms with the blood pressure in your ankles. Based on test results, you may undergo an ultrasound to evaluate blood flow.
If further tests are required, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT angiography may help identify the extent of narrowing in your blood vessels due to atherosclerosis.
Is PAD serious?
Severe PAD can lead to foot sores or wounds on feet that are not healing, which raises the risk for permanent tissue damage and leg amputation or foot amputation. PAD is also considered a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
How is PAD treated?
Medication and reducing risk factors, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, losing weight and stopping smoking are often the first steps in managing PAD.
However, in more severe cases, Dr. Lam may recommend peripheral artery bypass surgery or one of the following minimally-invasive vascular procedures:
(click the procedure above to learn more)