When you first develop symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in your legs, chances are that you most likely have fatty deposits in other places in your arteries as well. Cardiovascular doctors warn that PAD can signal other serious complications, such as reduced blood flow to your brain and heart. Left untreated, peripheral artery disease can lead to serious, life-threatening complications. Make an appointment with one of the best rated cardiologists in NYC, a heart doctor Michael Ghalchi to get proper diagnosis and treatment.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Vascular disease refers to any condition that affects your blood flow throughout your body— your circulatory system. It’s an umbrella term that includes vascular conditions such as:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Renal artery disease
- Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Carotid artery disorders
- Varicose veins and spider veins
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Aortic aneurysms
Peripheral artery disease, however, is probably one of the most common vascular problems in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 8.5 million people in the U.S. have some form of peripheral artery disease, also referred to as peripheral arterial disease, blood vessel disease or more commonly, PAD. As many as 20 percent of adults over the age of 60 suffer from some form of PAD.
Fatty Deposits Lead to Reduced Circulation
Peripheral artery disease is true to its name in that the blood flow from your heart is restricted as it flows to your limbs and extremities. Your peripheral limbs just can’t receive enough blood to keep up with the demand you place upon them.
When you first develop symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in your legs, chances are that you most likely have fatty deposits in other places in your arteries as well. Peripheral artery disease can signal other serious complications, such as reduced blood flow to your brain and heart.
Symptoms Usually Slow You Down
Very often, you won’t have any symptoms of peripheral artery disease. The most common sign is called claudication, and it refers to pain in your leg when you’re walking. The pain usually leaves after you rest for a period. Depending on where the blood flow is restricted, you may feel the pain in various parts of your legs, although calf pain is the most common area.
Cardiovascular doctors observe the following symptoms of peripheral artery or blood vessel disease:
- Leg pain when you walk
- Calf pain (the most common symptom)
- Cramping in your arms and/or legs
- Muscle pain
- Tingling in your extremities that disappears quickly
- Leg weakness or numbing
- Coldness in one leg or foot
- Toe soreness
- Weak pulse in your ankle
- Hair loss on your legs
- In men, erectile dysfunction
Severe claudication can be debilitating, leading to difficulty walking as well as limitations on any kind of physical activity. As Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) progresses, you may undergo “ischemic rest pain,” a term that translates to increased pain when you’re lying down. It may even wake you up.
Lifestyle and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Women and men are equally at risk for developing Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) when they have habits that lead to the vascular disorder. Hispanics and African Americans have a slightly higher level of risk, which cardiovascular doctor aren’t sure is related to ethnicity or cultural lifestyles.
The causes of peripheral artery disease very closely resemble the causes for coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when the major blood vessels going into your heart become clogged with deposits containing cholesterol called plaque. The most notorious of the lifestyle culprits include:
Risk factors of Peripheral Arterial Disease increase exponentially with age too. If you’re over 50 and have any other of the risk factors, you should see a heart doctor or cardiologist in NYC and get screened. Even if you’re under 50, if you carry a number of other risk factors, you need to see a heart specialist in NYC or cardiologist to get checked for early signs of peripheral artery disease. Everyone over the age of 70 should get Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) screening, whether you have symptoms or not. The most deadly combination of risk factors is smoking when you already have diabetes.
Avoid the Complications
The symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) are bad enough to send you to the heart doctor to seek treatment. With non-invasive tests available that take very little time, there is no reason to let symptoms go without a definitive diagnosis. Left untreated, peripheral artery disease can lead to serious, life-threatening complications such as:
- Claudication (severe leg pain)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Limb loss
- Non-healing wounds
- Heart attack
Clear Testing Works
While you may present with one or more symptoms related to Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and CAD, a cardiologist relies on specific tests to confirm a peripheral artery disease diagnosis before beginning treatment. Useful tests for PAD include:
- Carotid Doppler, an image test that relies on ultrasound waves to evaluate the flow of blood in the carotid artery in your neck. It is a painless, non-invasive technique that doesn’t use any radiation to create the images.
- Arterial Doppler, which uses the same gel and soundwave conductive techniques to monitor the blood flow in the large arteries in your legs and arms. The results of ultrasound Doppler tests show the level of blockage you’re experiencing.
- Ankle-Brachial Index, an easy test your heart doctor or cardiologist can perform in the NYC office with little more than a blood pressure cuff. An ankle-brachial index test measures the blood pressure in your ankle to the readings taken in the usual place on your arm. Very often used in conjunction with an ultrasound, this test provides a good baseline to measure the level of blockage that’s occurring in your outer limbs.
Other Potential Treatments
To avoid amputation or other serious complications, NYC cardiologist or your heart doctor may recommend medications and possibly a surgical intervention following a thorough round of tests. It’s one way to reduce your symptoms and improve your circulation. Coupled with lifestyle changes, procedures that may help include:
- Atherectomy, a treatment that involves removing the plaque that’s blocking your arteries
- Angioplasty and stent placement, test that’s used to restore blood flow
- Bypass grafting, during which your surgeon replaces the damaged artery with a healthy vessel from another part of your body
The specific treatment your heart doctor ultimately recommends is designed to improve your quality of life and allow you to return to your everyday activities, pain free. The severity of your condition, your age and genetic makeup, as well as the results of your tests, drives your cardiology doctor’s recommendations. At the same time, lifestyle changes will be crucial in addition to medications and surgery.
If you fall into the risk areas or are experiencing any of the symptoms of PAD or CAD, make an appointment today at Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates in Midtown NYC. Get tested and get treated.
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066