TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, affects more than eight million Americans. Not only does it hobble them with pain in their legs, it’s a bad sign of bigger problems ahead. And surprisingly, a lot of people who have it … don’t know it.
She may not be a master, but Lois Kander loves her weekly mahjong games.
She’s tough with her tiles … but helpless with her leg pain.
“It feels like if you’re going to take one more step, you’re going to drop,” she told Ivanhoe.
Lois has PAD. The leg pain comes when muscles are robbed of enough blood. And, left untreated, PAD can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke by two to six times.
Patrick Cambier, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist at Baycare Medical Group, says, “Patients really think it’s arthritis, think it’s something with their back.”
Doctor Cambier says if it hurts to walk and disappears when you sit, it’s probably PAD. Ultrasounds and measuring the blood pressure in the legs, ankles and toes can give doctors a definitive diagnosis.
“We can test it very easily, noninvasively.” Cambier said.
He says PAD is treatable in several ways: with devices that cut thru blockages, by inserting a coated balloon that prevents those blocks from returning, and the easiest and cheapest treatment: walking several times a day.
“Now the first thing you’re thinking about, and our viewers are probably thinking about, is ‘well my legs are gonna hurt’ well that’s the point. The old adage-no pain no gain is absolutely spot on when it comes to peripheral vascular disease,” Cambier explained.
These daily walks can literally build new arteries.
“You’ve got to have discomfort to stimulate the body to grow new arteries,” Cambier told Ivanhoe.
Playing through the pain, Lois is trying to improve the hand she was dealt one step at a time.
Doctor Cambier says PAD usually affects the legs, not the upper body. Like most cardiovascular diseases, the risk of getting PAD increases in smokers, diabetics and those with high blood pressure.
Contributors to this news report include: Emily Maza Gleason, Field Producer; Brogan Morris, Assistant Producer; Chris Tilley, Videographer; and Tony Dastoli, Editor.
LOW-TECH THERAPY FOR PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE
(Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/PeripheralArteryDisease/Understand-Your-Risk-for-PAD_UCM_301304_Article.jsp)BACKGROUND: Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head, and is most common in the legs. PAD may be the first warning sign of atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up in the wall of an artery. PAD occurs in arteries in the outer regions away from the heart, known as peripheral arteries. These plaque formations reduce the blood’s flow through an artery which may cause pain and numbness. The whole circulatory system is at risk when the arteries are blocked and narrowed. If untreated, it may lead to a full blockage which can result in gangrene or loss of a limb. If the blockage occurs in a carotid artery it can cause a stroke. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. PAD may be controlled or even reversed with proper care. Fortunately, PAD is easily diagnosed in a non-invasive way and can be easily managed.
DIAGNOSIS: The most common symptom of PAD is painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs or calves when walking, climbing stairs, or exercising. The pain typically subsides when you stop moving. Other symptoms include leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising, foot or toe wounds that won’t heal, gangrene, and a decreased temperature in your lower leg or foot compared to the rest of your body. PAD pain occurs in the muscles rather than the joints. Many people mistake their symptoms for something else, or do not have any symptoms at all. Diagnosing peripheral artery disease may be done in a simple physical examination by comparing the blood pressure in your feet to the blood pressure in your arms. This is called ankle-brachial index testing. Other testing options are ultrasound images, CT scans, MRAs, or Angiography.
TREATMENT: The treatment for PAD focuses on reducing symptoms and reducing further progression of the disease. Although exercising with PAD is often painful, physical activity is strongly recommended by physicians to treat symptoms. Exercise programs and walking ease symptoms by gradually increasing the amount of time a patient can exercise without feeling any pain. A program of supervised exercise training for PAD is known as cardiac rehabilitation and is effective at slowing the progression of the disease. Other lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and lowering cholesterol in your diet is an important part of treating this disease. Medications to prevent high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and blood clots may also be prescribed. In rare cases, other treatments such as angioplasty, stent placement, or surgery may be necessary.
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