September is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness month. The goal of Peripheral Artery Disease Awareness Month is to increase the public’s awareness about the risks of PAD as well as its relationships with other vascular diseases.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease?

PAD is the least recognized existing artery problem because many people mistake their symptoms as simply part of the aging process or being out of shape. However, timely detection and treatment of PAD can significantly decrease the patient’s pain, discomfort, risk of heart attack and stroke, while also improving overall quality of life.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you should talk to your doctor to determine if they are associated with PAD:

•Non-healing wounds on feet or toes

•Foot ulcers or sores

•Lower temperature in one leg

•Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on leg, foot, or toes

•Color changes in your skin Leg cramps in calves or thighs

•Foot pain

•Painful or tired legs while walking

•Slower walking pace

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, do not ignore them, call HCHS Heart and Vascular Center. HCHS also offers Project Life, a wellness screening program that covers cardiac and vascular screens, including one that can detect PAD. Call: 641-843-5500 for more information.

How is PAD diagnosed?

PAD is diagnosed based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results. Diagnoses from test results include measurements of:

•Ankle Brachial Indexes - An Ankle Branchial Index (ABI) test is done by measuring blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm while a person is at rest. Measurements can be repeated at both sites after five minutes of walking on a treadmill. This can help determine the presence and severity of PAD.

•Ultrasounds - Your provider also may decide to perform a Doppler ultrasound test to determine if a specific artery is open or blocked. This test uses sound waves to measure the blood flow to the veins and arteries in the arms and legs.

What are your Treatment Options?

The overall goals for treating PAD are to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and mobility, and prevent heart attack, stroke, and amputation. Your HCHS Provider will determine which of the PAD treatment options is best for you, based on your medical history and the severity of your condition.

There are three main approaches to treating PAD:

•Making lifestyle changes

•Taking medication

•Having a procedure performed

If you believe you are at risk of PAD, call HCHS Heart and Vascular Center. HCHS also offers Project Life, a wellness screening program that covers cardiac and vascular screens, including one that can detect PAD. Call: 641-843-5500 for more information.

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