What is PAD: Symptoms and Causes You Need to Know!

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is defined as the gradual onset of cramping pain or tiredness in the calf, thigh, hip, or buttocks that occurs because arterial blood flow cannot keep up with the increased demand of exercise. This is known as claudication. The reduction, or loss, of arterial blood flow to the legs can lead to ulceration and gangrene, and eventually amputation. PAD is caused by the build-up of hardened cholesterol and plaque that narrows the aorta and other arteries leading into, and in, the legs that results in reduce or absent blood flow.

Diagnosing Procedure: The Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) Test

People who suffer from this common circulatory problem usually have characteristic signs and symptoms that include pain or tiredness in the buttocks or legs that worsens with activity and improves with rest. Atypical symptoms such as impotence may be present. The ankle brachial index, or ABI, is key in diagnosing PAD. This is a measurement of the ratio of the blood pressure in the ankle to the blood pressure in the arm. An ABI that is less than 0.9 is suggestive of PAD. Special CT scans and MRI’s can be used to evaluate for blockage in the arteries and more invasive angiography can be used as well with interventions to open blocked arteries performed at the same time.

Like most chronic medical conditions, treatment of PAD is multifactorial and begins with therapeutic lifestyle changes or lifestyle modification.

Learn How to Treat PAD Naturally  

Like most chronic medical conditions, treatment of PAD is multifactorial and begins with therapeutic lifestyle changes or lifestyle modification. These lifestyle changes include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, increased activity, and tobacco cessation. Control of other modifiable risk factors such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol is central in the long-term treatment and prevention of peripheral arterial disease.

Surgical Treatment for Acute Complications

People with PAD are often prescribed a walking program and medications such as pletal or trental that may improve blood flow to the legs. Cases that do not respond to conservative management with lifestyle changes and medications, or develop acute complications, such as loss of pulse, require surgery to bypass the blocked arteries or placement of stents to restore blood flow. Unfortunately, amputation is sometimes required when gangrene is present and the limb can no longer be salvaged.

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