What is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD/PVD)?
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs. The most common symptom is painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs, or buttocks.
Untreated peripheral arterial disease is serious and often leads to amputation, which affects every aspect of a patient’s life. It is something we take very seriously and try to prevent at all costs. Early detection and intervention allow us to help patients avoid surgery and amputation.
Alate Vein Center utilizes state-of-the-art testing to diagnose peripheral arterial disease and the extent of the disease. Interventional radiologists were pioneers in the minimally-invasive treatment of PAD/PVD and their technical expertise and training exceed that of other specialties. Our interventional radiology team has over 30 years of experience helping patients regain and maintain their mobility and prevent life-debilitating amputation.
What Are the Symptoms of PAD/PVD?
Many people with peripheral arterial disease (or peripheral vascular disease) have no symptoms or mistake their symptoms for something else. When patients do experience symptoms, they may include:
- Leg pain that wakes you up at night
- Muscle cramping in your calves, thighs, or hips while walking, exercising, or climbing stairs
- Leg pain that lingers, even after you stop exercising
- Foot or toe wounds that won’t heal or heal very slowly
- Decrease in temperature of the affected lower leg or foot
- Slow toenail growth
- Poor hair growth on the legs
What Causes PAD/PVD?
PAD/PVD is caused by fatty deposits that build up within the walls of blood vessels. With time, the blood vessel narrows and reduces blood flow to the legs. This process is largely determined by genetics and lifestyle.
Even if you do not show signs or symptoms, the American Heart Association recommends a PAD screening if you smoke and/or have diabetes because this puts you at high risk for developing the disease.
Who is at Risk for PAD/PVD?
Certain lifestyle choices and medical conditions may increase the risk of developing PAD/PVD, including:
- Cigarette smokers – If you smoke, you may have four times the risk of PAD than nonsmokers.
- Diabetes mellitus – Having diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing PAD as well as other cardiovascular diseases.
- High blood pressure – If you have high blood pressure, we encourage you to work with your primary care provider to monitor and control your blood pressure.
- High blood cholesterol – High cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can significantly reduce blood flow. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Managing your cholesterol levels is essential to prevent or treat PAD.
- Obesity – People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher are more likely to develop PAD. Ask your primary care physician how to calculate your BMI and learn healthy ways to manage your weight.
- Physical inactivity – Physical activity increases the distance that people with PAD can walk without pain. Supervised exercise programs can be developed for you if you have PAD.
Testing & Diagnosis
PAD/PVD tests at Alate Vein Center are painless and covered by insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare. We use the latest technology, which is more accurate at predicting where there is blockage in the blood vessels in your legs and feet.
Whether or not your peripheral vascular disease needs treating beyond medications and lifestyle changes (controlling blood pressure, quitting smoking, controlling diabetes, cholesterol, etc.) will be determined by our state-of-the-art testing. You will have your results immediately.
If left untreated, this can lead to serious medical problems. If you are at risk for PAD/PVD, we encourage you to come in for an evaluation and testing even if you are not currently having symptoms.
What Treatments are Available for PAD/PVD?
When treatment is needed for peripheral arterial disease, Alate Vein Center utilizes all the latest, minimally-invasive techniques. These treatments are performed under mild sedation in our state-of-the-art procedure suites. No hospitalization is required. The PAD/PVD doctors at Alate Vein Center will evaluate and determine which of the following treatment options is right for you.
At Alate Vein Center, we perform balloon angioplasty by using a small catheter that has a balloon on the tip. The catheter is used to precisely place the balloon at the location of the artery blockage. In a very controlled fashion, the balloon is inflated, which flattens the plaque against the artery wall and effectively improves blood flow through the artery. This procedure is considered the gold standard for treating PAD/PVD.
Atherectomy is a relatively newer treatment where a small device is able to cut out the plaque and actually remove the source of the narrowing/blockage. At Alate Vein Center, we use the most advanced, controllable atherectomy devices available.
At Alate Vein Center, we reserve stenting for a very select group of patients. Stents are metal tubes that are placed in the artery to hold them open. They require blood-thinning medications to help keep them open. Because stents are no more effective than angioplasty, we only use them when it is necessary.
You can be assured that at Alate Vein Center, you will receive the latest, safest, and least-invasive treatment for your peripheral vascular disease.