If you experience leg pain that occurs when you’re active and then feel better when you rest, there’s a good chance you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Nirav Patel, DO, at Premier Vascular can assess your risk for PAD and develop a plan to help you resolve it. Dr. Patel is an expert in treating PAD using minimally invasive procedures to restore normal blood flow.
Peripheral Arterial Disease Q & A What causes peripheral arterial disease?
PAD begins when cholesterol that normally circulates through your bloodstream becomes attached to an artery wall. Plaque forms as more cholesterol and other substances continue to accumulate. This is a condition called atherosclerosis.
Over time, the atherosclerotic plaque gets large enough to narrow the artery and interfere with blood flow. That’s when you start to develop symptoms.
What symptoms develop due to peripheral arterial disease?
You can develop PAD in your arms, legs, and pelvic region. However, the problem most often occurs in your legs, causing symptoms such as:
Leg fatigue or heaviness
Thick, reddish-brown skin
Slow-healing vascular ulcers
Hair loss or slow hair growth on the leg
Vascular claudication — leg pain when walking that feels better when you rest — is usually the earliest sign of PAD. Advanced PAD that severely restricts blood flow deprives tissues of oxygen, leading to tissue death, non-healing arterial ulcers, and infections.
How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed?
Dr. Patel performs a catheter angiography to diagnose and assess the severity of PAD. Using X-ray imaging to see your arteries and to help thread a catheter through your blood vessels to the blockage, he injects a contrast dye. The dye highlights your blood vessels and reveals the extent of your atherosclerotic plaque
How is peripheral artery disease treated?
Treatment for PAD begins with making lifestyle changes and taking medications that slow down the progression of atherosclerosis.
If the blockage is moderate or severe, Dr. Patel recommends one of the following minimally invasive procedures to remove the plaque:
Balloon angioplasty and stenting
To perform balloon angioplasty, Dr. Patel makes a small cut in a blood vessel, inserts a catheter, and then uses real-time imaging to guide the catheter to the site of the blockage.
After positioning the catheter in the narrowed area, Dr. Patel inflates a balloon. The balloon pushes the plaque back against the artery wall and restores blood flow.
In some cases, he also implants a mesh stent in the newly opened area. The stent holds the artery open and helps prevent plaque from building up again.
If the plaque is too hard for a balloon angioplasty, Dr. Patel performs an atherectomy. For this procedure, he uses a catheter that’s equipped with a device that shaves the plaque or a laser that dissolves the blockage. If you have leg pain or you would like to prevent PAD, call Premier Vascular or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.