In severe cases, this blockage can result in a debilitating condition
known as intermittent claudication – marked by pain in the calf
or thigh muscles when walking even relatively short distances.
Although the pain usually subsides when resting, it is likely to
return as soon as activity resumes. In extreme cases, it can result
in non-healing wounds and limb loss.
Several risk factors are associated with PAD, including: diabetes,
high levels of blood fat, high blood pressure, obesity, genetics and
cigarette smoking. Tobacco use is the single most important risk
factor for PAD. “If you are a smoker, it is important to stop,” says
Abdul R. Halabi, MD and SJMO interventional cardiologist.
“PAD tends to be an undiagnosed condition, often simulating
other disease conditions,” adds Dr. Halabi. “Early diagnosis
and treatment are key to improving patient quality of life and
preventing limb loss,” he warns. Also crucial in stopping or slowing
the progression of PAD are dietary and lifestyle changes that can
lower high levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. Medications,
such as aspirin or lipid lowering drugs, are prescribed for less
serious conditions, while minimally-invasive therapies – such as
angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting – are usually recommended
for more advanced cases.
Patients often assume that leg discomfort is a sign of arthritis,
but it can also be an indicator of a blockage in the leg arteries.
Diagnosis is very important since this can also be an indication of
more severe conditions.
When arteries are damaged by atherosclerosis in one area of the
body, such as the leg arteries, it is likely that arteries in other
important locations, like the heart or brain, may also be affected.
As a result, individuals with PAD are at an increased risk for heart
disease, stroke and even death.
Please contact the SJMO physician referral line at 800.372.6094 to
find a SJMO cardiologist near you.