Summer months are a great time to get out for a walk in the park.
For some people, it can come easier than others. For some, even just a few minutes of walking can cause pain or fatigue. This could be a sign of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
PAD, a circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, is one of the leading causes of amputation. Patients with a history of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are most at risk for PAD.
The southeastern area of the United States has the highest amputation rates in the country, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Many of these surgeries can be prevented with proper education and alternative treatment plans, which result in patients having better health, more active lifestyles, and longer life spans.
About 8.5 million people in the United States have PAD, however general population awareness is estimated at only 25 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Risk factors include older age, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and plaque buildup in arteries, stemming from fat, cholesterol or calcium that obstruct blood flow. People with PAD are also at greater risk for heart attack and stroke, since the same factors that cause blockages in the limbs can cause blockages in other parts of the body.
So what do folks need to look for in regards to PAD warning signs? Remember F.L.O.W.
- Feeling of pain in the legs
- Loss of sensation
- Open sores that won’t heal
- Weakness when walking
If any of those symptoms appear, it is time to talk to a doctor and get evaluated. The best way to evaluate and diagnose PAD is with ultrasound examination. During an ultrasound, high frequency sound waves are bounced off tissues in the body and then converted into an image on a computer screen. Vascular technicians evaluate the blood flow through the vessels, looking for narrowed areas (blockages) in the arteries and blood clots in the veins.
While PAD can’t be cured, it can be managed with a variety of options, including minimally invasive procedures in an outpatient office setting. Often times, hospitals are not even needed.
Every person’s treatment can be different but the end result is often the same. You are able to get back to what you enjoy in life. Returning to an active life without pain within a matter of days. And there is no better news than that!