Peripheral arterial disease (formerly known as a peripheral vascular disease) is characterized by inadequate blood flow to the lower extremities. Plaques, which are fatty deposits that accumulate along the walls of blood arteries, are the most common cause of the illness. The development of debris affects the size of the channel and the volume of blood that can move through the route. Atherosclerosis is the medical term for this illness.
There are several risk factors for developing peripheral arterial disease that is comparable to the risk factors for developing coronary heart disease. These risk factors are as follows:
- Using cigarettes or other tobacco products (such as snuff and chew)
- A disproportionately high amount of cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) (HDL, the good cholesterol)
- High blood pressure is a medical condition (hypertension)
- A history of cardiovascular illness in the family
- Inactivity on a physical level (too little regular exercise)
- Kidney disease is a serious condition.
Experts estimate that half of the persons with PAD are unaware they have it since they have no symptoms. The following are examples of possible symptoms:
Hair loss on the soles of the feet and lower legs.
- Claudication that occurs on and off.
- Walking or climbing stairs might cause discomfort in the thigh or calf muscles. Hips can also cause pain.
- Leg weakness is a problem. It is possible to get chilly sensations in the foot or lower leg.
- Leg numbness and tingling.
- Toenails that are brittle.
- Toenails develop at a snail’s pace.
- Leg or foot ulcers that take a long time to heal (or never heal).
- When this happens, the skin on the legs becomes glossy, pale, or blue in color.
- Finding a pulse in the leg or foot might be difficult in some cases.
- Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that affects the ability to have an erection (impotence in men, problems achieving or sustaining an erection).
Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease
You’ll need a comprehensive physical examination as well as one or more of the following tests to appropriately identify peripheral artery disease:
- Blood tests are performed.
- Ankle Brachial Index is a measurement of the distance between the ankle and the wrist (comparison test of blood pressure in ankle and arm).
- Angiography is a medical term that refers to the study of blood arteries (x-ray of your blood vessels).
You may contribute to the prevention of peripheral arterial disease by changing your risk factors, which include:
- Don’t take up smoking. This is a significant risk factor that you can influence.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping a healthy weight Obesity, particularly a high concentration of body fat around the waist, has been related to elevated levels of cholesterol and other lipids in the bloodstream, which can cause plaque to build up inside the arteries.
- Healthy diet. Consume nutritious foods. It is recommended that you consume a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, and one that is low in saturated fats.
- Exercise on a regular basis. You should aim to exercise for 45 minutes or more every day if at all possible.
- Pressure control. Reduce the pressure in your blood vessels. The use of medications may be required if maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not sufficient.
Treatment for the peripheral arterial disease
Modifying risk factors.
Quitting smoking can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of intermittent claudication. It’s also crucial to maintain your blood pressure normal and your diabetes under control. Consult your doctor for advice.
Exercising has been proven to nearly quadruple the distance walked before experiencing leg discomfort. Try to exercise for 30 minutes daily. If your legs suffer, take regular pauses. Don’t give up, even if you have to stop frequently. Any action is good. Most individuals prefer jogging on a track or treadmill over walking on pavement. You might also attempt stationary cycling or swimming.
Even if you exercise and reduce your risk factors, drugs can help alleviate symptoms and halt disease development. The drug cilostazol (Pletal) improves muscle blood flow and hence relieves symptoms of intermittent claudication. Peripheral artery disease causes blockages in other arteries, including those supplying the heart and brain. So lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke is critical, which typically involves aspirin and statins.
Revascularization improves circulation by widening or bypassing constricted arteries. These operations are performed for persons with severe or progressive symptoms, or who have leg discomfort at rest. The most prevalent non-surgical technique is balloon angioplasty. A catheter is put into the constricted artery and a tiny balloon is inflated to open it. A metallic stent is frequently utilized as a scaffold to hold the artery wall after the balloon has opened it. Some patients need to have the constricted vessel surgically bypassed using a leg vein or a synthetic graft.