Dr. Pradeep Nair

Dr. Pradeep Nair

Know the Signs & Symptoms of PAD

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 you to learn more about this dangerous disease—the risk factors, the symptoms and the treatment options—in order to save limbs and lives. With a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, most patients can manage the symptoms of PAD and avoid the worst complications, such as amputation or heart attacks.  

PAD develops when your arteries become clogged with plaque – fatty deposits that limit blood flow to your legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs mean you are at risk for having a heart attack or stroke. PAD is a common and treatable disease, but it is often unrecognized and undiagnosed.

Leg symptoms to look out for include: pain or cramping after activity, numbness, coldness, sores that won’t heal, discoloration, hair loss, shiny skin or weak pulse. If you have heart disease, you have a one in three chance of also having PAD. Other risk factors include: being over the age of 50, smoking, being diabetic, having high blood pressure or cholesterol, and having a family history of vascular disease, heart attack or stroke.

PAD is diagnosed through a simple, painless ultrasound called an ankle brachial index (BMI). This exam tests the blood flow in the legs to determine your risk of PAD. Once detected, PAD can be treated to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and mobility and prevent heart attack, stroke, and amputation. 

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.

If left untreated, serious cases of PAD can lead to grave complications which can include heart attack, stroke, or amputation or loss of limb.Studies show that approximately 60% of the amputation procedures performed in the United States could have been prevented. CIS uses the latest technology and advancements in the treatment of PAD and believes that early detection and treatment can save limbs and lives.

To learn more about peripheral artery disease, or to schedule an appointment with a CIS cardiologist, call the CIS clinic nearest you or visit cardio.com/peripheral-artery-disease.


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