How do you take care of your heart after 40?
As you find yourself hitting 40, you may start thinking about health issues you previously didn’t concern yourself with. Should heart health be one of them?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries (arteries outside the heart). It is a common disorder of the circulatory system and affects approximately 10 million people in the United States.
Peripheral artery disease 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.
Peripheral artery disease is frequently detected in people who have coronary artery disease, which is caused by reduced blood flow due to plaque buildup in the arteries.
Steps you can take to lowering your risk of heart disease and developing peripheral artery disease include:
People with peripheral artery disease may not experience symptoms during the beginning stages. The most common early symptom is intermittent discomfort in the legs during activity, including:
With more advanced stages of peripheral artery disease, symptoms may include:
Many people who have peripheral artery disease have pain in their hips, 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.
Other symptoms can include:
Peripheral artery disease often goes undiagnosed. It is important to inform a physician if you have symptoms because the condition can lead to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Treatment at Ohio State focuses on controlling symptoms and halting the progression of the disease.
Medications to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol may be prescribed. Other medication include those that improve blood flow and relax blood vessel walls.
Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center vascular surgeons are experienced in the use of many technologies for minimally invasive treatment of peripheral artery disease including:
Vascular surgery is for patients with a vascular disease, such as peripheral artery disease, that cannot be treated by less invasive, non-surgical treatments. It may involve endovascular procedure in which catheters (thin, flexible tubes) or stents (mesh-like tubes) are inserted to maintain open arteries or veins. Vascular surgery is also used to redirect blood vessels in patients with poor circulation.
For patients who cannot be treated with traditional methods, our vascular surgeons participate in ongoing clinical trials investigating new treatments for certain cases of PAD.
Your physician will conduct a physical exam, which includes a pulse test that measures the strength of the pulse in the arteries behind your knees and feet. During this visit, you and your physician will also discuss your medical history and what symptoms your have experienced, when they occur, and how often.
After performing a physical exam and learning about your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may choose to do further testing. Peripheral artery disease can be diagnosed with tests including:
Patrick Vaccaro, MD, explains the advancements in treatment of PAD, with many patients benefiting from simpler outpatient procedures.