Peripheral Artery Disease

What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

When the arteries narrow due to the accumulation of plaque on the artery walls, it reduces the blood flow to the “peripheral” areas of the body, particularly the arms and legs. Unfortunately, if you suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD) or peripheral vascular disease (PVD), you probably have plaque accumulated in your arteries. Thus, doctors have linked PAD to a heightened risk for heart attacks and strokes.

What are the Symptoms of PAD?

PAD often does not have noticeable symptoms or the symptoms that do present can be easily misinterpreted as an unrelated problem. Often, PAD sufferers experience cramps or aches in the back, thigh, or calf during physical activity. If left untreated, PAD can lead to more severe cramping, cold feet and toes, foot numbness, and inferior healing of cuts and abrasions on the feet and legs.

How Does My Vascular Specialist Diagnose and Treat PAD?

The physicians at Heart & Vascular Associates of Acadiana can use several tests to determine if you suffer from PAD. The ankle-brachial index test, for instance, measures and compares the blood pressure readings taken at your ankle and your arm both at rest and after light exercise. Imaging tests can also help your physician successfully diagnose you. If you do have PAD, he or she will help you control the disorder by prescribing medications to lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  Your physician may initiate an exercise program to improve lower extremity blood flow.  If you suffer from advanced arterial blockage, your cardiovascular specialist may recommend performing an angioplasty, a procedure where the blockage of the artery is manipulated to help ensure proper blood flow. 

Can I Treat My PAD at Home?

Making positive lifestyle changes such as eating more fiber-rich, nutritious foods and eliminating high cholesterol, high salt foods from your diet can help you control PAD. Additionally, you will need to engage in physical activity, even though such activity can trigger the cramps and discomfort characteristic of PAD. The more exercise you get, the longer it takes for the PAD symptoms to present. You will also need to take special care of your feet and legs if you suffer from PAD. Keep your feet clean and moisturized to prevent cracking and always wear a clean, secure bandage over any cuts or abrasions. Since PAD inhibits your ability to heal properly, you must take extra care to avoid infection.

Talk to Your Acadiana Cardiologists About Your Heart Health

To schedule an appointment with Heart & Vascular Associates of Acadiana, please contact our office at (377) 534-4356. Our four offices proudly serve patients in the Lafayette community as well as the entire Acadiana region.