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Vascular Surgeon in Procedure Room

What Do Vascular Surgeons Do?

Vascular surgeons are highly-trained medical professionals who manage the blood vessels throughout the body, except for the brain and heart. They treat different conditions that affect the circulatory system and determine the best course of treatment for the patient. It is their job to make sure that the vascular systems of their patients are healthy. Vascular surgeons are also experts in human physiology, particularly in the cardiovascular system, and can perform intricate procedures to improve vascular health.

Why would you need to see a vascular surgeon?

The most likely scenario for a patient to see a vascular surgeon is by referral from their primary care physician. However, it is also common for a specialist to refer a patient to a vascular surgeon. If your physician notices an issue with the health of your blood vessels they may send you for an evaluation. For example, a podiatrist may notice ulcers on the feet of a patient that is not properly healing, which can be a sign of peripheral artery disease. They can refer that patient to a vascular surgeon to be evaluated for peripheral artery disease to determine if the patient has it and how severe it is.

If you are referred to a vascular surgeon it isn’t a guarantee that you will undergo surgery. Their clinics have diagnostic tools and trained staff to look for blockages in the blood vessels. Some of the tools and techniques used to diagnose vascular disease are X-rays, ultrasounds, tomography, and angiography. You may be considered for a procedure if the provider decides that it’s the best treatment for the state of your condition.

What are some of the conditions that vascular surgeons deal with?

Different conditions affect the circulatory system. A vascular surgeon has the necessary tools, knowledge, and skills to deal with the conditions. They include;

  • Varicose veins – They are twisted and enlarged veins that may cause pain to your legs.
  • Peripheral artery disease – It is the narrowing of arteries in the legs due to fatty plaque build.
  • Spider veins – It is a variation of the varicose veins where you may have webs of veins under your skin.
  • Aneurysm – It is a bulge in your blood vessel. The swelling appears on the blood vessel’s weak spots, for example, where it branches.
  • Carotid artery disease – It happens when fatty deposits restrict blood flow to your brain.
  • Injury – induced blood vessel damage
  • Deep-vein thrombosis – It happens when a blood clot is formed in a deep vein. Usually, such clots develop in the thigh, pelvis, arm, or lower leg.
Doctor Checking Varicose Veins
Vascular surgeon evaluated a patient with varicose veins.

The vascular surgeons at Modern Vascular are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral artery disease. Some also provide treatments for varicose veins, depending on the managing physician of the clinic. Visit our clinics page to learn about which services are available at the Modern Vascular clinic closest to you.

How do vascular surgeons treat patients?

Vascular surgeons do not prefer a specific type of procedure and will choose the best option for the patient. They are able to perform open surgery if necessary. At Modern Vascular, vascular surgeons prefer minimally-invasive procedures. Minimally-invasive procedures are less intrusive procedures that can have faster recovery times and fewer complications than open surgery.

Some of the minimally-invasive procedures a vascular surgeon may perform are:

  • Angiogram – The physician injects a dye into the arteries and uses an X-ray machine to study the flow of blood. They are able to establish whether there are any abnormalities in your circulatory system without making an incision.
  • Angioplasty – The vascular surgeon can unblock restricted arteries using a catheter. The surgeon guides the catheter through a blood vessel towards the blocked artery. After the catheter is placed a balloon can be inflated in order to expand the blood vessel and push the buildup against the artery walls.
  • Venoplasty – It is a procedure similar to angioplasty. However, this procedure is used on patients that have a blockage in their veins.

Other treatment options that don’t involve a procedure are prescribing medications or lifestyle changes, such as a structured walking plan. Surgery is only considered if these are not viable options for treating a patient.

What kind of training do vascular surgeons need?

In order to become a vascular surgeon, an individual needs to meet educational and training requirements. There are additional skills that can come in handy for those who wish to become a vascular surgeon, such as good communication skills, being well-coordinated, having composure under pressure, being a leader, and having empathy.

Education requirements

Vascular surgeons must first receive a bachelor’s degree, which is a required qualification to attend medical school. In medical school, there is learning in a classroom setting and also clinical education. The first two years of med school are pre-clinical and focused on learning in a classroom setting. The last two years are similar to an internship, because the student becomes part of a care team, providing support to residents and attending physicians to care for the patients.

Training

After completing medical school the student will complete an internship under the supervision of experienced surgeons. The experienced surgeons train them and help develop their skills.

After the one-year internship, the surgeon must complete a five- to seven-year residency program. Before the surgeon is considered fully qualified, the surgeon has to complete a fellowship program that takes about two to three years. The fellowship program trains the surgeon to specialize in cardiothoracic, cardiovascular thoracic, or cardiovascular surgery.

What can you expect if you see a vascular surgeon?

The vascular surgeon is mainly interested in your medical and family history on your first visit. Therefore, carry all your recent blood work, diagnostic tests, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results. You may need to change into a gown, so wear comfortable clothing.

The surgeon then performs various tests to try and diagnose your problem. After the diagnosis, the surgeon comes up with an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on your condition, the treatment plan varies.

It may include lifestyle changes, more tests, medication, or even surgery. Sometimes the treatment may take a long time. You may have to see your surgeon for years before you heal. Therefore, you must choose the right surgeon for your circulatory system treatment.

Vascular Surgeon Video Interview
Dr. Wande Pratt Discussing Vascular Surgeon Training at PAD Conference

Choosing a vascular surgeon

Considering that a vascular surgeon deals with a sensitive part of the body, you need to emphasize your selection process. There are several factors you can consider;

  • Board certification – The surgeon you choose needs to meet all the training requirements of a vascular surgeon. A good surgeon needs to be certified by a notable organization, for example, the American Board of Surgery.
  • Experience – Surgeons need to be well versed with what they are treating. The more experienced the surgeon is, the better the care the surgeon can offer.
  • References – Ask your primary caregiver to refer you to an excellent vascular surgeon. Also, you can get suggestions from friends and family.
  • Communication skills – It would be best to have a surgeon who can communicate articulately and makes you comfortable. Also, look for one who has excellent and welcoming staff.

Bottom Line

Vascular surgeons are responsible for their patients’ vascular health. You will usually only see a vascular surgeon if you are referred by your primary care physician or a specialist. These medical professionals have years of training and education and have an extensive understanding of the cardiovascular system. They are able to perform open surgery but will opt for minimally-invasive methods whenever possible because of the advantages for the patient.

Treatment options for patients with PAD

Treatment Options for Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is not curable, but is treatable, and often without major surgery. The best method of treatment depends on the patient and the severity of the disease. The following treatment options are the most common options for patients that are suffering from PAD.

Lifestyle Modifications

The lifestyle modifications are typically prescribed to all patients with Peripheral Artery Disease. In some cases, making these modifications are all a patient needs to see improvements to their condition. However, some patients may still require a procedure. After a procedure, the patient should also adjust their lifestyle to prevent a recurrence.

All patients with PAD are advised to:

  • Maintain a healthy, low-sodium diet
  • Take aspirin, as directed by your physician
  • Consistently take blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol medication(s) as prescribed
  • Stop smoking
  • Begin a structured walking program, if possible

Angiogram & Endovascular Intervention

If your symptoms cannot be managed with these lifestyle changes alone, the next step is to get an angiogram with endovascular interventions. An angiogram is performed by inserting a thin tube, called a catheter, into an artery in your leg. A contrast dye is then added through the catheter to take x-rays of the blood vessels. Then, the doctor will be able to see where the blood is flowing perfectly and where there are blockages disrupting the flow of blood.

What can vary during an angiogram is which minimally-invasive approach the doctor uses to treat blockages. Your provider will make this decision based on the location, size, and the number of blockages found while performing the angiogram. The types of treatments your doctor may perform during an angiogram are the following:

  • Atherectomy: Physician “debulks” or removes plaque from artery walls
  • Angioplasty: A tiny balloon is inflated in the blocked area, flattening the plaque, making space for blood to flow through again, and then the balloon is removed.
  • Stent placement: A small, expandable, mesh-like tube is expanded in the artery, where it remains to keep it open. 
Balloon Angioplasty and Stenting

These minimally-invasive treatment options have been shown to be safer, yet equally as effective as the next, more invasive option, which is open surgery. 1

Peripheral Artery Bypass

Occasionally, the minimally-invasive endovascular options described above must be repeated to keep the artery open for strong circulation. If for any reason these options are not providing long-lasting relief, an open surgery called “peripheral bypass surgery” may be performed. In this procedure, the surgeon will use either a man-made graft to act as a new blood vessel or take a healthy vein from your body to use.

Whereas the options above clear out existing arteries for blood to flow through, in this option, the new blood vessel is attached to direct blood around the blockage. The blocked artery stays in your body, but no longer helps with circulating blood.

Which Treatment Option is Best?

It’s best to leave that decision to the experts. Speak with your doctor to discuss your options. It is most beneficial to get peripheral artery disease diagnosed early to increase the likelihood that the treatment is less invasive. If the less invasive treatment options do not provide relief it may be beneficial to ask your doctor to refer you to a vascular specialist. Specialists have a deep understanding of specific conditions and have helped many people suffering from the same condition.

Deciding between amputation and revascularization

Revascularization or Amputation?

Technology has opened the door for innovation in medicine that has led to great advances in the treatment of many chronic diseases. Over the last 20 years, patients with Peripheral Artery Disease have benefited from life-saving revascularization treatments that are minimally invasive and focused on limb salvage. These changes although remarkable for those with success stories, don’t come without scrutiny and can result in tension within the vascular community.

The History of PAD Treatment

Historically, treatment for peripheral artery disease is based on risk-factor management or surgical interventions that were only done in a hospital setting.

Risk Factor Management

Roughly 30% of Modern Vascular patients receive a recommendation to move forward with a procedure at their initial consultation. Many more are recommended to control their risk factors through:

Interventions & Amputations

If risk factor management approaches are not successful, other treatment options include revascularization therapies to treat blockages. Revascularization techniques can be minimally-invasive using stents and balloons or can include open surgery such as bypass surgery.

Treatments for Severe PAD Include:

  • Balloon Angioplasty/Stenting
  • Bypass Grafting
  • Cryoplasty
  • Percutaneous or Laser Atherectomy

Patients with critical limb ischemia have an advanced form of peripheral arterial disease where patients are getting no blood flow in their foot and are in danger of losing a leg to amputation.

Amputation is a procedure used when tissue destruction, infection, or disease affects a body part so severely that it is impossible to repair or puts the person’s life in danger. For instance, in PAD patients, a foot or leg may be removed by surgical amputation if blood flow cannot be returned to the foot or leg.

Unfortunately, amputation can impact a patient’s life expectancy. According to a study in Vascular Health and Risk Management, the rate of death after major lower extremity amputation in the US is approximately 48% at year 1, and 71% at year 3.4  

This is why it is so important to catch PAD early so that a doctor can intervene before the disease cuts off blood flow to a body part for an extended period of time, leaving the patient with limited options.

About 54% of all surgical amputations result from complications of vascular diseases and other conditions that affect blood flow, such as diabetes and PAD.2

Chronic vascular problems can lead to tissue death in the toes, feet, and legs. Of patients undergoing amputation for complications of these diseases, nearly half will die within five years of the amputation procedure.

Innovation & Tension in the Vascular Community

Over the last decade, there have been great advancements in the treatment or therapy used for Peripheral Artery Disease. PAD affects 8 to 10 million Americans, primarily those with diabetes, over the age of 65, and ethnic groups including Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. With technology, we have been able to detect PAD much earlier and treat it without the need for amputation or other invasive procedures.

The innovations have not come without a cost, as there is a bit of tension within the vascular community on the legitimacy and necessity of certain approaches.

With regard to the evolution of medical innovation, not everyone has been this forward-thinking. While some in the vascular community hesitate to deviate from the traditional methods, tension is increased further as many vascular surgeons who are not embracing endovascular treatment are losing patients to those who are. These revascularization procedures can be done more safely and earlier in the disease progression, in outpatient facilities like Modern Vascular with multiple clinics throughout the country.

Patient advocacy has played a huge part in emphasizing the importance of treatment options for patients because the patient’s best interest should ultimately be the focus of care. Patient advocate and Founder of The Way to My Heart, Kym McNicholas shares, “When it comes to treating patients with peripheral artery disease, every single vascular physician needs to respect the fact that different doctors have different tools, techniques, and approaches… Patients should be made aware of, whether one physician or another offers them so that they can make a well-informed decision on what it will take to give them a better quality of life.”

Sources:

  1. Logar, C. M., Pappas, L. M., Ramkumar, N., & Beddhu, S. (2005, March 21). Surgical revascularization versus amputation for peripheral vascular disease in dialysis patients: A cohort study. BMC nephrology. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1079864/.
  2. Amputation | Society for Vascular Surgery. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://vascular.org/patients/vascular-treatments/amputation.
  3. Torbjörnsson E;Ottosson C;Blomgren L;Boström L;Fagerdahl AM; (n.d.). The patient’s experience of amputation due to peripheral arterial disease. Journal of vascular nursing : official publication of the Society for Peripheral Vascular Nursing. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28527728/
  4. Swaminathan, A., Vemulapalli, S., Patel, M. R., & Jones, W. S. (2014, July 16). Lower extremity amputation in peripheral artery disease: Improving patient outcomes. Vascular health and risk management. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107174/
  5. Innovations in pad therapy: Make sure you’re up-to-date on … (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2008/03001/Innovations_in_PAD_therapy__Make_sure_you_re.3.aspx
Limb amputations

The Truth Behind PAD Amputations

The following blog was taken from an Op-Ed piece entitled “The Truth Behind PAD Amputations”, which was published by the Executive Director for the Way to My Heart.  The Way to My Heart is a 501(c)(3) focused on improving the quality of life for patients suffering from vascular disease.

Excerpt:

Every patient presents differently and at different stages. That is true. But other modifiable factors are contributing to the nearly 150,000 PAD-related amputations each year1 2 3, most of which are preventable. Early diagnosis, early treatment, and lifestyle modifications help, but the greatest contributing factor for unnecessary amputations is in the hands of physicians.

The “right” way to treat is highly contested among key physicians treating PAD: Vascular Surgeons (VS), Interventional Cardiologists (IC), and Interventional Radiologists (IR), along with the “right” place to treat — hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers (ASC), or office-based labs (OBL). At the center of this debate is who or what is leading the majority of needless PAD-related amputations? Everyone thinks their way is the best and only way. It’s always their competition that’s leading to poor patient outcomes, not them.

What is the right treatment, and isn’t there a standard treatment protocol that works for everyone with PAD? Yes and no. Frontline treatment, if PAD is diagnosed, is lifestyle modifications, including smoking cessation, diet, and exercise. It also may include medication such as blood thinners and statins to increase flow and reduce cholesterol. Most insurance requires three months of this conservative approach to see if claudication improves. Many believe the next step is intervention, then surgical bypass, and amputation as a last resort. The question is when to switch to the next level and how to perform it. Some skip steps, even performing amputation as frontline treatment.

It’s difficult to standardize when physicians should switch treatment levels because many patients are poorly diagnosed or not diagnosed at all until advanced stages. At that point, lifestyle modification and medication are not going to be effective. If someone is in the advanced stages of PAD, called critical limb ischemia (CLI), has a non-healing ulcer or gangrene, then the first step for these patients is intervention or surgery. It is imperative that these patients are appropriately evaluated to save their limbs.

Some physicians stick with conservative treatment too long, withholding interventional or surgical treatment. Lifestyle modifications are important, especially walking. Withholding angioplasty to restore just enough flow to relieve some debilitating pain for a patient who complains of lifestyle limiting claudication, happens much too often. But also waiting to treat a chronic total occlusion (CTO) can lead to a situation where it is much more difficult to resolve.

And then there are those physicians who go straight to performing bypass or extremely invasive bypass. This shouldn’t be frontline treatment and blockages should first be addressed percutaneously (intervention). Different physicians have different approaches, tools, techniques, skills, and even philosophies to treat blocked arteries, particularly in the legs of patients with PAD.

I founded The Way To My Heart, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to help these PAD patients. It is a network of nearly eight thousand patients around the world, which provides high-touch advocacy for patients with PAD. We help patients explore and understand all options available to them so they can make an informed decision as to what treatment will help them to live a better quality of life.

Read the full article here.

Sources:

Modern Vascular How to Choose Your Vascular Partner

How to Choose the Right Vascular Partner for You

Severe leg pain, slow-healing wounds, and cold lower limbs are many of the signs of the common circulatory condition periphery artery disease (PAD) in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. Left untreated, PAD can eventually lead to amputation.

Once you have decided to seek treatment for peripheral artery disease, the next step is to choose a physician that serves as your vascular partner. Unfortunately, there are far too many lower extremity amputations without any prior testing, such as non-invasive vascular studies, which is why it is important to seek a second opinion if you have been told amputation is your only option.

What Kind of Doctor Treats PAD?

While doctors may say they can treat PAD, not all will have the same level of experience or training. Your vascular partner could be a vascular and interventional radiologist or a vascular surgeon.

Vascular and Interventional Radiologists

Interventional radiologists are medical doctors with 6 or 7 years of additional training following medical school and use minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to treat diseases. Procedures that are performed by interventional radiologists are less risky and have a shorter recovery period when compare to open surgery. Vascular and interventional radiologists are certified in both diagnostic radiology and endovascular procedures (treatments).

Vascular Surgeons

Vascular surgeons are also highly-trained physicians who manage and address PAD, aortic aneurysms, carotid artery blockages for stroke prevention, and venous insufficiency. At Modern Vascular, both interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons are trained to treat PAD through minimally invasive endovascular procedures, which reduce recovery time and lower costs versus open vascular surgery. When choosing a vascular specialist you want to make sure you feel comfortable about your treatment options.

At Modern Vascular, our team of providers understands the importance of choosing the right vascular specialist for your needs, that is why our providers are leading experts in the endovascular treatment of peripheral arterial disease.

Things to Consider

You want to make sure that your vascular provider is knowledgeable of the disease that they intend to treat and that their main concern is helping their patients. Ultimately, choosing a vascular provider is a personal one, but here are some more things to consider:

Reputation

With the advancement of review platforms, before you even meet a potential physician you can see how other patients feel about them. The best physicians will have a great reputation both with their patients as seen in the reviews and in the greater medical community with their peers. Do your research to identify their public reception and pay attention to how they handle unfavorable or negative situations. You can also ask your primary care physician if they have a recommendation.

Although time is of the essence in terms of getting your PAD treatment, another great way to support your decision as a vascular physician is if they are highly sought after. Are the vascular physicians busy? If they are experts in their field? Most likely they will be.

If you have any friends or family members who have had vascular surgery, you should ask them about their experiences. Their first-hand accounts of how it went, for better or worse, with their physician and procedures can add some great insight.

Mission-Driven Partner

You want to choose a vascular physician who is just as passionate about their expertise as they are about you. Here at Modern Vascular, it is our mission to save limbs and lives. We are committed to innovation and research incorporating cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art technology into our everyday patient care to improve the lives of our patients. If your physician is recommending even a toe amputation, you owe it to yourself to get a second opinion from a doctor passionate about limb preservation.

Vascular Physician Experience

How experienced is the physician in the procedure you need? This is incredibly important in weighing your options. There are physicians who specialize in very specific procedures, while others perform a wide range. For the treatment of specific conditions like PAD, it might be more important to go with someone who has spent time perfecting their skills for PAD.  At Modern Vascular, we treat and see hundreds of PAD patients each year and specialize in the care and treatment of those with this chronic disease.

Rapport

You are making a limb-saving decision, in seeking treatment for PAD, so why shouldn’t you feel comfortable with the physician managing your procedure?  Some people are willing to forgo comfort with a professional in favor of certifications and reputation. However, it is important that you are comfortable with anyone who will perform surgery on your body regardless of how notable the resume is. You should feel comfortable enough with your physician or advanced practice providers to speak candidly about your medical problems, and openly discuss all treatment options.  The right fit will take the time to make sure you understand the associated risks and benefits.

Are There Other Options?

Not every patient requires a procedure and is important to choose a provider who treats PAD at all stages and is willing to try non-surgical medical management in less serious cases. At Modern Vascular, if you do not meet the criteria for revascularization and you have mild to moderate symptoms of claudication, your practitioner can put you on an At- Home Medical Management Program. Your practitioner will provide specific directions and tools for managing your PAD through lifestyle modification, which may include diet, exercise, quitting smoking, and medical monitoring.

Dr. Leschak Interventional Radiologist for Modern Vascular, Best Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment Specialist 2020-USA(1)

What is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional Radiology (IR) uses minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to treat vascular disease. These treatments pose minimal risk to patients, reduce recovery time and lower costs versus open vascular surgery. Interventional radiologists are medical doctors with 6 or 7 years of additional training following medical school. Interventional radiologists are certified in both diagnostic radiology and endovascular procedures (treatments).

How do endovascular procedures differ from open vascular surgeries?

  • Endovascular procedures are conducted in dedicated outpatient clinics rather than in a hospital setting.
  • Interventional radiologists specialize in minimally-invasive procedures while vascular surgeons perform open procedures as well.
  • Endovascular procedures tend to be shorter and have reduced recovery time, usually discharging the patient on the same day.
  • Patients are under moderate sedation during an endovascular procedure while open vascular surgeries usually require general anesthesia.
  • Endovascular procedures are less expensive than open vascular surgery.
  • Vascular surgeons are trained to treat a variety of vascular conditions which may include offering endovascular procedures. Conversely, some interventional radiologists, including those at Modern Vascular, choose to develop specialized skills in a specific IR treatment.

Types of endovascular procedures

The strategies for treating vascular disease vary based on the severity and the type. Endovascular procedures are not as invasive as other procedures and are much more innovative. The following procedures are common for vascular interventional radiologists to perform.

  • Balloon Angioplasty – A very narrow catheter that has a balloon on the tip of it is inserted into the femoral artery of the patient, which is located in the groin. It is guided to the part of the artery that is blocked with the help of x-rays. The balloon is then inflated and deflated a few times with the goal of eliminating the obstruction.
  • Stent Placement – If an artery gets closed again after a balloon angioplasty a stent may be placed within the artery in order to keep it unobstructed. Stents are tiny tubes that help support the opening of an artery. They are placed over the balloons, which are inflated in order to cause the stent to expand, then the balloon is deflated and removed, leaving the stent in place.
  • Additional Endovascular Procedure Techniques – Interventional radiologists are well-suited to find solutions to new and complex issues that arise. Generally, these problems require more invasive procedures and therapy, but interventional radiologists are always finding new ways to overcome these challenges.
Balloon Angiography and Stenting

Long-term patient relationships with interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons.

Both interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons have long-term patient relationships and will continue to see patients for follow-up care after treatment. Modern Vascular patients are asked to visit their IR physician for follow-up care 2-4 times per year post-procedure.

Interventional radiology is used to diagnose and treat peripheral artery disease.

Modern Vascular specializes in Peripheral Artery Disease treatment and pedal loop reconstruction. Through its unique training program, doctors who are already skilled and knowledgeable about vascular disease become experts in pedal loop reconstruction and other endovascular approaches to returning blood flow to the feet, placing Modern Vascular doctors among the few who revascularize arteries below the knee, all the way to the pedal loop.

Take The Peripheral Artery Disease Assessment

Watch this video to learn more.

How heart health and vascular health are related

Listen to Your Heart: Vascular Health

Imagine that your body is a machine and your heart is the pump that keeps it running. Now, consider how your body lets your heart know that your vascular system isn’t running at its best.

Soreness and intermittent cramps are a key symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). A burning or aching feeling in your feet or toes may also indicate PAD. These are signs of insufficient blood flow and potential heart problems.

Improving Your Vascular Health

You may already be taking medicines to ease leg pain or to help you manage other health problems. If you have these symptoms and have not been evaluated you should talk to your doctor to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. It is important to address any issues as they come up with any machine, no matter how well-designed it may be.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

It’s important to do what you can to improve your heart health and possibly reverse the buildup of plaque in your arteries. PAD comes with a high risk of heart attack, stroke, or limb amputation. Making healthy changes today and following a treatment plan can reduce this risk. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Quit smoking and the use of tobacco products.
  • Be active! Try walking, swimming, or biking for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods such as fruits, nuts and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Medications

There are medications proven to help prevent blood clots, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. However, these medicines are not a replacement for healthy lifestyle choices. Of course, medications are great non-surgical options for lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.

You should always consult with a doctor when using medication to treat symptoms. If medication and a healthy lifestyle alone is not reducing the risks associated with PAD, you might need to explore other options that are available.

American Heart Health Month: How Coronary Artery Disease and PAD are related
February is American Heart Month. Find out how Coronary Artery Disease and Peripheral Artery Disease are related.

Minimally Invasive Surgery and Catheter-Based Procedures

Sometimes Peripheral Artery Disease requires advanced treatments. If you have severe PAD you may require a minimally invasive procedure to restore proper blood flow to the legs. If you think that you have Peripheral Artery Disease and want to know what course of treatment is best for you then it would be beneficial to get evaluated for PAD. Ultimately, your vascular health is very important and it is wise to make sure your body is working as intended.