What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?
- Posted on: Jul 15 2018
When you have peripheral arterial disease your arteries in your legs have either become narrower or are completely blocked. You’ll know if this is happening when you cramp or ache in your buttocks, calves, or thighs when walking or climbing stairs.
This isn’t something to take lightly. When you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), it’s more likely other arteries in your body have narrowed. If these are leading to the heart of the brain, this can put you at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.
What causes PAD?
As we age our arteries become stiffer and thicken. The linings of the arteries can be damaged by smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other factors. These changes allow plaque (a buildup of fat and other materials) to form within the artery walls. The plaque narrows the space inside the artery and can limit blood flow.
Who gets PAD?
Various risk factors increase your chances of developing PAD. These are:
- Heart disease
- Being over the age of 50
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
How you know you have PAD
When your arteries have narrowed, they have trouble delivering enough blood to the legs when in use, such as when walking. This leads to what is called claudication — cramping or aching in your buttocks, thighs, and calves during exercise. The cramping/pain will usually stop when you stop moving. As your arteries continue to close off, the pain will increase and its onset will be more frequent.
How we treat PAD
At Nevada Vein and Vascular we have various options for treating PAD. Unless the blockage is severe and merits immediate surgery, we begin with lifestyle changes. These include smoking cessation, daily exercise, and managing health problems such as diabetes. Medications can also help.
If these don’t work, we may proceed to surgery. We use a catheter to reach the affected section of the artery. At that point, we may inflate a tiny balloon, which opens the blocked artery (angioplasty). We may also insert a stent at that area. This wire mesh tube will support the artery wall to keep it open.
Posted in: Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)