HOUMA- More than 20 million Americans suffer from a condition called peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD. This is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, leading to potential blockages in the legs.
September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month. Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) urges our communities to learn more about this dangerous disease—the risk factors, the symptoms and the treatment options—in order to save limbs and lives. Studies show that approximately 60% of the amputation procedures performed in the United States could have been prevented. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most patients can manage the symptoms of PAD and avoid amputation or heart attacks.
As a part of raising awareness for PAD month, CIS is hosting screening events and lobby displays at select locations. Click here to view our upcoming events. Registration is encouraged.
Peripheral artery disease is caused by plaque build-up or blockages in the legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, blocked arteries in the legs keep the organs from receiving oxygen-rich blood, which raises the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. PAD is a common and treatable disease, but it is often unrecognized and undiagnosed. Ultimately, PAD can reduce mobility and lead to amputation if left untreated.
Symptoms of PAD to look for in the legs include: pain or cramping after activity, numbness, coldness, sores or ulcers that won’t heal, discoloration, hair loss, shiny skin or a weak pulse. The risk for developing PAD increases with age and is highest for those over 50 years old. Smoking increases the chance of developing PAD three to five times. But other common risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and a family history of vascular disease, heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options for those with PAD that can help patients reclaim their quality of life. Lifestyle adjustments, such as quitting smoking and eating healthier, or medications, can be effective for many people with PAD. In severe cases, minimally-invasive vascular surgery or bypass surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow to the limbs to prevent an amputation. CIS uses the latest technology and advancements in the treatment of PAD and believes that early detection and treatment can save limbs and lives.
“The most severe manifestation of this disease is critical limb ischemia which is the leading cause of major amputations throughout the world,” explained Dr. Craig Walker, founder, president and medical director of Cardiovascular Institute of the South. “Amputation is more expensive, and is associated with more pain, disability and a higher death rate than interventional therapy.”
If you think you may have PAD, a painless ultrasound or imaging test can show the blood flow in your legs to determine your risk.