Wear red socks on the third Saturday of February every year to increase awareness for peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is an opportunity to spread awareness of a disease that affects 1 in 5 adults older than 60, many of whom aren’t even aware that they have it. PAD can also indicate heart problems that could lead to heart attack or stroke, and its complications could lead to amputation.
The Way To My Heart is a national nonprofit PAD patient advocacy group. Their goal is to raise awareness about peripheral artery disease and spread the message about the importance of early diagnosis. They sell socks for National Red Sock Day on their website, allowing them to expand critical education, support, and advocacy to help save limbs and lives. The red socks symbolize a healthy circulatory system, and the blue toe and heel symbolize the effects of poor circulation.
The first National Red Sock Day happened on February 19, 2022. The Way to My Heart hosted a virtual PAD conference, inviting doctors from all across the country to participate. Their conference that they call “Making the Impossible Possible” is hosted by Kym McNicholas semiannually. Speakers include Modern Vascular physicians Wande Pratt, Matthew French, and Stephen Leschak.
Dr. Leschak Selected as 2022 U.S. Patient Champion of the Year
The Way to My Heart has a name for patients with peripheral artery disease: “PAD Warriors.” A PAD Warrior named Sunshine joined the conference to share her experience with Dr. Leschak.
Sunshine described the months leading up to when she met Dr. Leschak. She describes how she felt that other doctors weren’t listening to what she had to say. “The first time I even spoke with a member of his staff,” Sunshine said, “I felt cared for.”
The differences between her previous attempts to seek help and her experience with Modern Vascular were clear. She said that she had given up on doctors and nurses because she never felt heard. Kym emphasized that sentiment, “All of those doctors that didn’t listen to her soon enough… it’s just tragic.” On the day of her procedure, she got to meet Dr. Leschak. “He is just absolutely amazing, and he has changed my life,” says Sunshine.
“We have worked with Dr. Leschak for a while now and he has really been near-and-dear to our hearts because he takes a holistic approach,” says Kym, “Every year we offer a U.S. PAD Champion Award and it is voted on and nominated by the patients themselves.” Kym shared a story about a PAD Warrior that Dr. Leschak could have treated and cleared blockages but decided against because it would not have solved that patient’s problems. Dr. Leschak had a tough discussion with the patient about more serious issues that needed to be addressed.
“Dr. Leschak really stands out in the way he cares for his patients,” says Kym, “He looks at each patient as an individual human and takes all of their health issues into consideration when he recommends a course of care.” Kym commended Dr. Leschak for never giving up on Sunshine and celebrated his commitment to caring for his patients with PAD.
Dr. Stephen Leschak is a vascular and interventional radiologist and the managing physician for Modern Vascular in Southaven. He has over 20 years of training and experience and is an expert in venous and arterial peripheral vascular disease. “I think we really have to be a patient advocate,” he said, “I really do. I think these patients are suffering.” He believes that vascular and interventional radiologists, interventional cardiologists, and vascular surgeons can use their skill sets to make an impact on patients’ lives.
Modern Vascular Physician Presentations
Dr. Wande Pratt, vascular surgeon and managing physician for Modern Vascular in St. Louis (Creve Coeur, MO), and Dr. Matthew French, interventional cardiologist and managing physician for Modern Vascular in Indianapolis, also spoke at the “Making the Impossible Possible” virtual conference. They all discussed what physicians from their specialty had to offer in the treatment of peripheral artery disease, and what sets them apart.
Dr. French talks about his experience as an interventional cardiologist at Modern Vascular. “Interventional cardiologists have a long-term relationship with patients,” he says. Interventional cardiologists will often continue to see patients long after they have had a procedure performed for peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease, venous insufficiency, and coronary artery disease are progressive diseases, meaning that they continue to worsen. Therefore, interventional cardiologists need to monitor their patients’ heart and vascular health.
Dr. Wande Pratt provides his insight from the perspective of a vascular surgeon. During his fellowship, he spent much of his time on open procedures. It wasn’t until the latter years of his fellowship and first few years in practice that he began to adopt endovascular techniques. Advancements in technology allow for more advanced procedures with fewer risks. He gained that skill set by spending time with interventional radiologists and interventional cardiologists. The collaborative process was beneficial both for Dr. Pratt and his patients.