The Doctor is In: Peripheral Arterial Disease

According to the American
Heart Association
, more than 8 million Americans are living with peripheral
arterial disease, a type of cardiovascular disease that also is known as
peripheral vascular disease.

PAD is caused by the hardening of blood
vessels — arteriosclerosis — in your legs and feet. Although hardening of the
arteries usually is associated with coronary heart disease, narrowed blood
vessels in your lower extremities can lead to blood clots, stroke, varicose
veins, gangrene, kidney failure, and other serious health issues. People with
type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for developing PAD, as are cigarette
smokers, African-Americans, and post-menopausal women. Other PAD risk factors

• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
• Family history of heart or vascular disease
• More than 25 pounds overweight
• Physically inactive lifestyle
• Age 50+

Although cardiovascular disease is a
leading cause of death in the United States, many people with PAD do not know
they have anything wrong — until they suffer a stroke or heart attack. That’s
why it is important to see your primary care physician for routine screening of
your heart and vascular health.

Cramping pain in your calf muscles is a
common early symptom of PAD. You may feel the pain while walking, but then it
goes away after you sit down or stop moving. This is known as intermittent
claudication. Other symptoms of PVD may include numbness in your lower legs,
cold legs or feet, foot or toe ulcers that will not heal, changes in color to
the skin in your legs or arms, and aching pain in the lower extremities when
you’re at rest.

Doctors use a test called ankle brachial
index and a physical examination to diagnose PAD. A simple, painless test, ABI
measures blood pressure in your arms and ankles using a regular blood pressure
cuff and a special ultrasound stethoscope.

Treatment for PAD depends on your general
health, personal preferences, and severity of the blockages in your legs. In
many cases, non-surgical treatment options — for example, prescription medicine
or lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthier
weight, or making changes in your diet -- may relieve your symptoms and stop or
slow the progression of the disease. In some cases, minimally invasive
endovascular surgery may be recommended to open blocked blood vessels and
restore blood flow.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute has published “Stay
in Circulation
,” a handy, downloadable patient guide with more information
on PAD. For more information, also visit
and the Legs for Life® online
PAD risk assessment

* Joshua Feinberg, D.O., is a family medicine physician in practice at
the Crozer Health Pavilion, 145 Brinton Lake Road, Suite
201, Glen Mills
, PA 19342, 610-459-1619.

About Crozer Keystone Staff

Crozer-Keystone Health System’s physicians, specialists and advanced practitioners are committed to improving the health of our community through patient-centered, quality care across a full continuum of health services. Crozer Brinton Lake is Crozer-Keystone’s comprehensive outpatient care facility in western Delaware County, offering primary care, specialty services, outpatient surgery and advanced cancer treatment. Contact us: 300 Evergreen Drive, Glen Mills, PA 19342 1-855-254-7425



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