Simple Leg Pain or PAD?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects more than 8.5 million Americans. Most don't know they have the condition. Are you one of them? PAD is a common circulatory problem that happens when there's a narrowing of blood vessels outside your heart, reducing blood flow to your limbs. When this happens, your extremities don't receive enough blood flow – leading to symptoms like leg pain when walking or being active. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, or a buildup of plaque on the interior walls of the arteries that pump blood to your arms and legs.

photo USA vascular technician Deanna New, RVT conducts ultrasound screening on a patient.

IS PAD DANGEROUS?

In one word – yes. Fatty deposits that build up in the inner lining of your arteries can lead to blockages that restrict blood flow to the arteries leading to your stomach, arms, kidneys, legs and feet. Over time, your arteries may continue to narrow or even become blocked, which can lead to tissue death and amputation. And when this type of blockage happens in a carotid artery, it can lead to a stroke. If you have PAD, you likely have a higher risk of death from a heart attack or stroke.

The good news: Although PAD is a potentially life-threatening condition, it can be managed and sometimes reversed with proper care.

KEEP SYMPTOMS IN MIND

Many people with PAD have mild or no symptoms. But now that you know it's dangerous, it's important to keep an eye out for symptoms, including cramping, fatigue, heaviness, discomfort or pain in the legs of buttocks when you're active. Risk factors for PAD and other forms of vascular disease include:

Over age 60 Hypertension (high blood pressure)

High blood

cholesterol

Smoker

Diabetic

Family history of vascular disease

Previous heart or leg treatments

Prior stroke

WHEN TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

Leg pain and numbness – or the other symptoms listed above – are not just normal signs of aging. If you're experiencing any these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away, who may refer you to a vascular surgeon for further evaluation and treatment.

Vascular Diagnostic Services, a component of University Surgical Associates, offers patients a comprehensive vascular screening program for the early detection of vascular issues and disease. In vascular ultrasound, sound waves are transmitted into the body and create an image of veins and arteries on a screen. The speed of the sound waves returning to the ultrasound machine allow for calculation of the speed of blood flow in the vessel. When the speed of blood flow in a blood vessel is too fast, this indicates a narrowing in the vessels.

The vascular technicians at University Surgical Associates are certified and credentialed with the IAC, or the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission which accredits imaging facilities for vascular testing. "We take extra steps in the lab for quality assurance measures, comparing our ultrasounds to surgical outcome," says Technical Director Bettina McAlister, RVT. "Our lab participates in continuing education and we're constantly looking over our studies for accuracy."

All studies are interpreted by USA's highly experienced vascular surgeons, who are specialists in managing veins and arteries throughout the body. Vascular surgeons do more than just perform procedures – they provide guidance and help you determine if surgery is necessary or if your condition can be successfully managed with medication, exercise or a combination of the two.

This Saturday, Veterans Day, as a small "thank you" to veterans, the vascular surgeons of USA are offering free ultrasound screenings to veterans ages 60+ to check for PAD, carotid artery disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA. USA vascular technicians will perform three screenings, which takes about 15 minutes, then a USA vascular surgeon will speak with you regarding the initial results. To reserve your spot, call us at 423-756-1342 or go online to universitysurgical.com.

Noteworthy:

This Saturday, Veterans Day, as a small "thank you" to veterans, the vascular surgeons of USA are offering free ultrasound screenings to veterans ages 60+ to check for PAD, carotid artery disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA.

MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about University Surgical Associates, call 423-475-1342 or go online to universitysurgical.com.