PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE
WHAT IS PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE - PAD?
The arteries are the blood vessels that carry the blood from the heart to all the areas of the body. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition in which fatty deposits (called plaque) build up along the walls of the arteries that carry blood to the arms and legs. This is also known as arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The arteries slowly narrow and may even become blocked, affecting blood circulation, especially in the legs and feet.
WHO HAS IT? - WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF PAD
WHAT ARE THE RISKS - WHAT CAN HAPPEN?
The six signs listed above may mean that an artery is being blocked. This is a progressive condition. Left alone, it will get worse. If sores do not heal, they will allow bacteria to enter and start a deep infection of the soft tissue or bone. If there is inadequate blood flow, a procedure to increase the circulation by making the artery wider (angioplasty) or surgery to replace a portion of the artery may be necessary. If there is a part of the foot that will not heal, this may require amputation. "In the next five years, one in four patients with peripheral arterial disease will suffer a heart attack, stroke, amputation or death" - Peripheral Arterial Disease Coalition
WHO IS AT RISK?
HOW DO YOU TEST FOR PAD?
The first step is to perform a non-invasive vascular examination. This is a simple test done by placing blood pressure cuffs about the leg at different levels to measure the blood pressure and obtain a image of the pulse wave form. This will give your doctor an excellent idea of if there is evidence of PAD. Your doctor can then advise you if you need and treatment at all or if further testing is necessary.
WHEN SHOULD YOU BE TESTED FOR PAD?
If you have any of the six Signs of PAD you should have a non-invasive vascular exam.
Sources: American Heart Association., Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health, Society of Cardiovascular and interventional Radiology, Vascular Disease Foundation, World Health Organization