If you are experiencing pain in your hips and calves while walking, feeling numbness in your feet or legs, or have brittle toenails on your feet, you may be suffering from peripheral artery disease. This vascular illness can keep you from enjoying your hobbies and other activities. Further, it can cause serious health consequences if it is not treated at an early stage. Fortunately, at the Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, Virginia, we can treat this illness and improve your health and quality of life.
How Is Peripheral Artery Disease Diagnosed?
Peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, occurs when the blood flow in your peripheral arteries becomes damaged. Diagnosing this disease is a quick, easy process, and there is no need for you to feel nervous when you visit us for an initial consultation.
Analyzing Your Legs
We can use a variety of different techniques to diagnose PAD. For example, analyzing the blood pressure in your legs can help us determine whether you have PAD.
During this test, we may compare the blood pressure in your arms and ankles. Differences between the blood pressure in various parts of your body can indicate that you have PAD.
Receiving Imaging Tests
In addition to examining your legs, we can use imaging tests to determine whether you are suffering from PAD. These tests allow us to visualize the structure of your arteries and analyze the movements of your blood.
For instance, an angiogram is a type of imaging test that allows us to see how blood flows through your arteries. In addition to an angiogram, we can use other imaging techniques, such as ultrasound, to diagnose PAD.
We may use other tests and techniques to determine whether you have PAD. For example, we can use diagnostic tests to analyze the amount of cholesterol, amino acids, and other substances in your body.
Further, we can use other types of imaging tests, such as a technique called magnetic resonance angiography, to diagnose PAD.
Will I Be Uncomfortable While I Receive My Angiogram?
Receiving an angiogram is a quick, minimally-invasive process.
Getting Ready for Your Appointment
We will give you a list of detailed instructions to follow before you receive your angiogram. Although these instructions will be personalized to fit your unique situation, it’s common for us to order blood tests before you receive your angiogram.
We may also tell you not to drink or eat anything for a few hours before your appointment. In addition, you may need to avoid taking certain medications and supplements for several days.
Receiving Your Angiogram
We will begin your angiogram by asking you to lie down on a table. Once you are in position on the table, we will clean your skin and inject lidocaine into your body. This is a local anesthetic that will numb your incision area and help you feel comfortable throughout this process.
Once you are numb, we will insert a thin tube called a catheter into your artery. We will use the catheter to inject dye into your artery. This dye will allow us to take detailed images of your blood vessels.
Since you do not have any nerves in your artery, you will feel comfortable as we move the catheter through your blood vessel. As we move the catheter, we will take X-ray images of your arteries. These images will allow us to analyze the health of your blood vessels and determine whether you are suffering from PAD.
Recovering From Your Angiogram
After we remove the catheter from your body, we will apply pressure to the incision area for about fifteen minutes. Next, we will advise you to rest for a couple of hours. After this resting period is complete, you will be able to quickly return to your usual schedule.
Discussing Your Results
You will have an opportunity to discuss the results of your angiogram with us. We will show you the images that we took during your angiogram and explain the information that we learned about your arteries.
If you have been diagnosed with PAD or another vascular disease, we will talk about our range of treatment options. Depending on the severity of your disease, we may advise you to make lifestyle changes, take medications, or receive medical procedures.
What Causes PAD to Develop?
PAD is an illness that occurs when your peripheral arteries narrow and your blood has difficulty moving through your damaged vessels. Peripheral arteries may be located in your legs, arms, stomach, and other areas of your body.
There are a number of issues that can cause your arteries to narrow. Fatty deposits or plaque can form on the sides of your arteries. These deposits will narrow your arteries and make it more difficult for blood to flow through the affected vessels. This buildup of plaque, which is known as atherosclerosis, is the most frequent cause of PAD.
In addition to atherosclerosis, other factors can limit your blood’s ability to move through your arteries. For example, blood clots can form in your arteries. You might also experience an injury that damages your blood vessels. In addition, you might have been born with defective arteries.
Restricted Blood Flow
As these arteries narrow, the blood flow to your legs, arms, or other affected areas of your body will decrease. The restriction of your blood supply can cause you to experience discomfort and numbness in your legs, arms, and other locations.
Further, this disease can cause more serious health issues if you do not treat it at an early stage.
What Symptoms Are Associated With PAD?
Legs and Feet
Developing PAD can cause you to experience cramps and discomfort in your legs and feet. For example, you may feel discomfort in your calves or hips when you are walking. You may also feel numb or cold sensations in your feet and legs.
These issues occur because you are receiving insufficient oxygen and blood flow in these areas of your body.
PAD can cause you to develop ulcers and sores on your feet and legs. These ulcers may heal very slowly.
PAD can change the appearance of your skin, making you develop pale, blue, or shiny skin on your arms, legs, and other affected areas of your body. In addition, your toenails may become very brittle or grow very slowly. You might also lose hair on your legs or feet.
If you do not treat peripheral artery disease, the condition of your arteries may worsen, and you might develop more serious health issues. For instance, you could have a stroke or a heart attack. Treating PAD at an early stage will reduce your chance of developing these complications.
What Factors Increase My Risk of Developing PAD?
PAD is an extremely common disease. In fact, about 10% to 20% of people in the United States will develop this condition by the time that they are over age sixty. There are several different factors that increase your risk of developing this vascular issue.
Your age has a big influence on your chances of experiencing PAD. After you turn fifty, your risk of developing this disease will rise as you get older.
Your genes affect the condition of your arteries and how your blood vessels change over time. If your close family members developed vascular illnesses, you have a higher chance of experiencing this issue.
For example, if your parents had strokes or heart attacks, you will be at greater risk of experiencing PAD.
Certain health conditions can damage your blood vessels and increase your chance of developing PAD. In particular, you are at higher risk for PAD if you have diabetes or other vascular diseases. Having high blood pressure or cholesterol will also raise your risk of experiencing this illness.
Your lifestyle can impact the health of your blood vessels. Smoking puts extra stress on your body and increases your chance of developing PAD. Being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle will also raise your risk of developing narrow arteries.
What Treatments Can Be Used to Address PAD?
There are a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes that can improve PAD and reduce the symptoms associated with this illness.
Making lifestyle changes can reduce the fatty deposits in your arteries and improve the blood flow throughout your body. We may advise you to walk, hike, swim, or perform other types of physical activity for at least one hundred and fifty minutes every week.
In addition, you can improve your health by eating a balanced diet that avoids processed foods, excessive amounts of sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Further, quitting smoking can reduce unnecessary stress on your vascular system.
In addition to lifestyle changes, we may advise you to use medication to treat your PAD. Statins are medications that can lower your cholesterol. These medications will also reduce your risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack.
In addition to taking statins, we may advise you to take antihypertensives. These medications will lower your blood pressure and reduce the stress on your damaged arteries. Ramipril is a type of antihypertensive that can help you feel more comfortable when you are walking. This medication will also lower your chance of experiencing a stroke or heart attack.
If your arteries are very damaged, we may advise you to receive an angioplasty. During an angioplasty, we will use a catheter to place a small device into your artery. Once this device is placed into your artery, we will carefully inflate it.
As the device inflates, the diameter of your artery will increase and your blood supply will improve. After the device is inflated, we may use a mesh stent to prevent it from closing.
Choosing a Treatment
After you have received your PAD diagnosis, we will discuss our range of treatments with you in great depth. We have extensive experience treating PAD, and we will customize your treatment to fit your unique condition and symptoms.
If you have fairly mild symptoms, we may advise you to make lifestyle changes. If the condition of your arteries is more severe, we are likely to advise you to take medications or receive an angioplasty.
Schedule a Consultation
You don’t have to spend the rest of your life experiencing discomfort while walking and feeling numb sensations in your feet and legs. Diagnosing and treating peripheral artery disease is a quick process, and there are a number of treatments that can improve your health and wellbeing.
To learn more about how we can diagnose and treat this disease, contact us at the Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, Virginia for an initial consultation today.