OK, you've been told that you have (or might have) peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD. So the questions going through your mind right now are probably, "How serious is PAD?" or "What are my best options for how to treat it?" or even simpler, "What's next – where do I go from here?"
In this article, the specialists from Comprehensive Interventional Care Centers address these questions, and give you the straight answers you're looking for.
To answer the first question, PAD is a very serious condition, one that requires treatment. That's the bad news. The good news, however, is that with early diagnosis and assessment, peripheral arterial disease can be successfully treated. Its symptoms can be managed and even reversed, and you can enjoy a long, active life free from symptoms such as constant leg pain.
First step – get an assessment from peripheral arterial disease specialists
The first thing you should do is to schedule an examination and assessment of your condition with doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of PAD. Your family doctor may have noted your symptoms and made some tests, and suggested on the basis of them that you have peripheral artery disease. But you need to know more than that before you decide on the best treatment.
Peripheral arterial disease specialists such as the doctors at CiC can perform more extensive tests to determine first whether you really have PAD, and second, how serious your condition is if you do. Our specialists use sophisticated diagnostic equipment such as Doppler ultrasound to determine whether there is a buildup of plaque in your arteries that is blocking them. If necessary, we can use more extensive tests such as angiography to pinpoint the exact location of these blockages, and determine how much of a danger they pose to you.
This information allows us to make accurate assessments of the extent of your disease, and decide whether it should be treated conservatively, or more aggressively. Possible treatment options can include:
Conservative or natural treatment
For mild cases of PAD, the first line of defense is natural treatment. This option focuses on helping you to modify your lifestyle to reduce the risk factors that cause atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque that causes PAD). This form of treatment may include recommendations for dietary changes, weight loss, smoking cessation, walking or exercise programs, and advice on proper foot care. We wrote about these natural treatment options in more depth in two recent articles:
- "How Changing Lifestyle Habits Is an Effective Peripheral Arterial Disease Natural Treatment"
- "Is Peripheral Arterial Disease Natural Treatment an Option for Me?"
Click the links if you'd like to read more about these options.
Sometimes our examination of your condition shows you have certain critical risk factors that cause PAD and contribute to making it worse. If this is true, we may supplement the conservative treatments discussed above by prescribing medications such as:
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statin medications) to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- High blood pressure medications. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower it.
- Medications to control blood sugar. This is even more important if you have diabetes in addition to PAD.
- Medications to prevent blood clots and improve blood flow.
- Symptom-relief medications such as cilostazol to increase blood flow to the limbs and alleviate leg pain so you can walk more easily.
Sometimes, peripheral artery disease requires more than lifestyle changes and medications to control it. If your symptoms do not respond to conservative treatment, your doctors may recommend more aggressive treatment options.
At Comprehensive Interventional Care Centers, these advanced treatments are reserved for patients whose symptoms are severe, or who are at high risk of serious problems such as gangrene or the loss of organ function. To reduce these risks, our Interventional Radiology Endovascular Specialists use procedures that are nonsurgical and minimally invasive. They include techniques such as catheterization, balloon angioplasty, stent placement, and atherectomy to open blocked arteries and restore proper blood flow.
In some cases, patients who have or are in danger of developing life-threatening conditions such as critical ischemia may be referred for a procedure called bypass grafting. In this procedure, the specialist uses a blood vessel from another part of the body or a synthetic tube to bypass (go around) a seriously blocked artery. These procedures don't cure PAD per se, but they are sometimes required.
The decision as to which treatment option is best made by you, working in conjunction with peripheral arterial disease specialists
At CiC, we will present to you the best possible treatment options for your PAD, based on our many years of experience. If conservative or natural treatment is appropriate for your case, we'll recommend it, and supplement it if necessary with specific medications. If we find that your symptoms or the rate at which your disease is progressing are more serious, we'll present more interventional options for your consideration. Our goal is always to find the treatment that is best suited to each patient.So give us a call at 888-377-7122 and get the evaluation process started. The sooner you start treating PAD, the sooner you can become free of its symptoms.