Advances in cardiovascular medicine in recent years have made it easier for doctors to detect peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in its early stages. This includes the use of advanced diagnostic tools such as Doppler ultrasound.
In mild cases of PAD, the narrowing of arteries is caused by a buildup of arterial plaque has not completely blocked blood flow. Early detection means that many cases can be treated with lifestyle changes and with medication.
This does not mean, however, that these mild cases of PAD are not still serious. They are. The existing plaque is still there, still impairing the normal flow of blood. This means that people with PAD are more at risk of developing other serious health problems. It can also make existing conditions such as diabetes worse.
PAD increases your risk of other cardiovascular problems
Peripheral arterial disease causes diminished blood flow through your arteries. However, the disruptions to your circulatory system don’t stop there. PAD affects your veins, heart, too, and greatly increases your risk of:
- Atherosclerosis – more buildup of arterial plaque, leading to full blockage.
- Chronic venous insufficiency – a condition in which blood “backs up” in your veins, causing varicose veins, swelling in your feet and legs, and pain.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – an extremely dangerous condition in which blood clots form in the veins of your legs. These clots can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE), which is potentially fatal.
- Heart attack – in which diminished blood flow causes permanent damage to the heart muscle over time.
- Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – interruptions to the blood flow to the brain.
PAD is most dangerous for patients who also have diabetes
Diabetes is one of the known causes of PAD. Diabetics have a much higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, which causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries. The combination of PAD and diabetes is particularly problematic. The plaque deposits most often block arteries to the legs and feet. This can lead to pain, especially when walking, and to other symptoms.
For example, PAD can lead to the development of corns, callouses, or open sores on the legs and feet that are slow to heal. If you have diabetes and notice such sores, you should not attempt to treat them yourself. Instead, you should see your doctor or podiatrist and follow their advice. If left untreated, these sores can fester and develop gangrene, which sometimes requires amputation of the affected limb.
At CICC, we are experts in treating Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
We specialize in a non-surgical procedure called atherectomy, which can remove the buildups of plaque and calcium that block your arteries. The procedure is so safe and painless that it can be performed in our offices. There is no need for hospitals or general anesthesia. Removing the blockages can help to remove the ongoing danger that PAD poses to your overall health.
We have CiC locations in Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, so give us a call and schedule an appointment. We’d love to help you find out what you can do to reduce the impact of PAD on your overall health.