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PAD Evaluation and Treatment at RCI

What is peripheral arterial and vascular disease (PAD)?

Peripheral arterial disease, or vascular disease, is a serious condition referring to the blockage or buildup of blood vessels—usually in a patient's legs and feet. While peripheral arterial disease, also known as PAD, can be deadly, its symptoms can be subtle. Many times, patients attribute PAD to other ailments like arthritis, back pain or the effects of aging.

What causes peripheral arterial and vascular disease (PAD)?

PAD is usually caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls that leads to restricted blood flow. Atherosclerosis affects the heart and can affect arteries throughout the body.

Risk factors for PAD:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Age 50 and older

Symptoms of peripheral arterial and vascular disease (PAD)

People with PAD may not experience symptoms during the beginning stages. The most common early symptom is intermittent discomfort in the legs during activity, including:

  • Pain when walking
  • Pain, weakness, numbness or cramping of muscles in hands or feet
  • Sores, wounds or ulcers on hands or feet that heal slowly or not at all
  • Noticeable change in color in legs or feet
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Diminished hair and nail growth on affected limb and digits

With more advanced stages of peripheral artery disease, symptoms may include:

  • Critical limb ischemia (pain in your feet or toes even when you are at rest)
  • Painful sores on your feet or toes (left untreated, these sores can become dead tissue, also known as gangrene)

Many people who have PAD have pain in their buttocks, thighs or calves when engaged in physical activity. The pain often goes away when the exercise stops. This is because the leg muscles used in exercise need more blood flow, and this flow is restricted due to the arteries narrowed by the disorder.

PAD often goes undiagnosed. It is important to inform a physician if you have symptoms of PAD, because the condition can lead to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Diagnosis of peripheral arterial and vascular disease (PAD)

The most common test for PAD is the ankle-brachial index (ABI). ABI is an ultrasound test that determines how well your blood is flowing by comparing the blood pressure in your legs to the blood pressure in your arms. PAD can also be diagnosed with a magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or with computed tomography (CT) angiography.

Treatment of peripheral arterial and vascular disease (PAD)

Treatment for PAD focuses on controlling symptoms and halting the progression of the disease.

Conservative treatment

Medications to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol may be prescribed. Other medications include those that improve blood flow and relax blood vessel walls.

Steps you can take to lower your risk of developing PAD, or to lower the risk of PAD progression, include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Manage your diabetes

Non-surgical procedures

Interventional radiologists are medical doctors that are experienced in minimally invasive treatments of PAD, including angioplasty and stenting. During this procedure, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into a blocked vessel and inflated, and then a small mesh tube is inserted to keep the vessel open. This is a minimally invasive treatment that does not require surgery.

Sometimes angioplasty and stenting is not possible, and the only treatment option is vascular surgery. If this is the case, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

How do I schedule an appointment for PAD evaluation and treatment at RCI?

To receive an information packet from RCI Vein & Interventional Clinic, or to set up your initial consultation appointment, please call:

RCI Vein & Interventional Clinic: 319-261-0636
Toll Free: 800-747-0121

All of our interventional radiologists are board certified by the American Board of Radiology with Certificates of Advanced Qualification (CAQs) in vascular and interventional radiology. They are members of the Society for Interventional Radiology (SIR).

For further information on these and other interventional radiology procedures, visit www.sirweb.org

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RCI is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Questions? Comments? Need to schedule an appointment? Contact us at 319-261-0636

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