Symptoms and Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral Artery Disease is the narrowing of peripheral arteries due to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup on arterial walls) decreasing blood flow to legs, feet, and toes. September is Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness month but awareness for the disease is still very low.
PAD Requires Medical Attention
No Early Symptoms
When Peripheral Artery Disease initially presents, it's a silent disease. There are no symptoms early on that your arteries are becoming stiff and narrow. Usually it's not until you've engaged in a vigorous activity that your body will start to tell you that it's not getting enough oxygen to the tissues. The classic symptom presentation is claudication, which is the cramping in the calves, ankles or feet while someone is walking or running that goes away when the person sits down.
Slow Healing Foot Wounds
Foot wounds that do not heal or heal slowly is also an important sign of PAD and an indication that you need to see a PAD specialist for a consultation and screening right away. What we are really concerned about is the development of a diabetic foot ulcer, which can lead very rapidly to infection of the bone, which can lead very rapidly to amputation. Modern Vascular specializes in reversing this process through revascularization and preventing amputations of the lower leg, foot and toe.
It Starts with an Evaluation
The Modern Vascular screening for PAD is very simple but thorough. It starts with an evaluation of your medical history and the current medications that you're taking. Then we do a physical examination, we ask you to take off your socks and shoes and we look at your feet to evaluate your pulses. We usually perform an ultrasound evaluation to look in real-time at the velocity and the quality of your blood flow. When we have a reduction in the caliber of a vessel of 50 percent or greater we know that, that reduces the velocity and the force of the blood flow sufficiently to cause PAD symptoms. These are the cases where we recommend to go in and perform a minimally invasive treatment to help open up that artery.
Even though we only see patients who have been referred by a doctor or are currently experiencing symptoms, less than 50% of consultations end in a recommendation for procedure. Many patients are sent home with recommended lifestyle modifications and then follow up to see if their symptoms have improved.