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Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease, also known as “PAD” or “peripheral vascular disease,” is a condition that occurs when blockages develop in the periphery blood vessels – those in the arms and legs. PAD of the legs is much more common than PAD of the arms. It is estimated that approximately 1 out of 20 adults in the U.S. over the age of 50 have PAD. In many cases, the disease is undiagnosed.

Dr. Chris Kim, cardiologist on the medical staff at Davis Hospital and Medical Center, discusses PAD, the diseases signs and symptoms, screening, treatment options, and more

At Davis Hospital and Medical Center, healthcare professionals are able to screen for peripheral artery disease in just a few minutes using the painless and non-invasive ankle-brachial index test. Schedule your appointment by calling 866-431-WELL (9355)

Am I at risk for having PAD?

The following individuals are at the greatest risk for developing peripheral artery disease:

  • Over the age of 70
  • Over the age of 50 with diabetes and/or smoking history
  • Under the age of 50 with diabetes and/or smoking history AND any of the following:
    •  BMI of 30 or higher
    • Personal or family history of heart disease, stroke, or PAD
    • High LDL or low HDL cholesterol
    • Inactivity / lack of exercise
    • High homocysteine levels in the blood 

What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?

In the early stages of the disease, PAD may cause no noticeable symptoms whatsoever. Even the symptoms PAD does cause may be easily dismissed as signs of old age or general inactivity. If you or a loved one is at risk for PAD, you should familiarize yourself with the disease’s warning signs. Early recognition could lead to more effective treatment and an improved outcome. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or cramping in the leg during exercise. This is known as intermittent claudication. Pain subsides once exercise is over.
  • Numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Cool, shiny, red, or discolored skin on the lower leg or foot
  • Burning/aching of the toes or feet – especially when at rest and while sleeping
  • Hair loss or slow hair growth on toes and feet
  • Slow- or non-healing wounds/ulcers/sores on the toes or feet
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) in men

Many of these classic PAD symptoms are falsely believed to be signs of “getting older.” Of course, in reality, these symptoms could indicate serious underlying health problems. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, tell your doctor.

How is PAD diagnosed?

Screening for peripheral artery disease is easy to do. Healthcare providers use the ankle-brachial index test – a brief, painless, non-invasive procedure. During an ABI test, blood pressure cuffs are placed on the arms and legs, and measurements between the upper and lower extremities are compared. This test is available at Davis Hospital and Medical Center – without physician referral or insurance billing – for the low price of $30. Call 866-431-WELL (9355). Or, learn more about the test.

Other diagnostic tests include:

  • Vascular ultrasound
  • Arteriography
  • Blood testing
  • CT scan
  • MRI

How is PAD treated? What can I do to prevent/manage PAD?

If you are diagnosed with PAD, your physician will most likely suggest lifestyle changes and/or the use of medication to control your risk factors. All of the following actions may help with arterial blockages and the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat a healthy, high-fiber diet. Avoid fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Lower LDL cholesterol to 100 mg/dL or lower.
  • Lower blood pressure to 140/80 mmHg or lower.
  • Manage blood glucose. Diabetics should aim for hemoglobin A1C test results of 7% or lower.

Your physician can also help you create and implement a walking program to improve circulation and reduce pain and cramping in the legs. While there is no cure for peripheral artery disease, many people are able to live healthy and active lives by managing their risk factors and following their doctor’s advice.

Schedule an ABI Test to Screen for PAD | Layton, UT

An ankle-brachial index test is a painless, noninvasive procedure that takes less than half an hour to complete. This test can be scheduled at Davis Hospital and Medical Center for the low price of $30 (not billed to insurance). No physician referral is required. Schedule your ABI test by calling 866-431-WELL (9355). Or, learn more about the test.

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