If your legs start to hurt when you’re active and then feel better when you rest, it’s time to schedule an appointment at Downriver Heart and Vascular Specialists. There’s a good chance you have peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that can lead to non-healing ulcers and, in the worst case, amputation. To schedule an appointment, call the Downriver area office in Southgate, Michigan, or use the online booking feature today.
Atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when cholesterol and other fats build-up in an artery wall, causes peripheral artery disease or PAD. As the fatty plaque progressively enlarges, less blood can flow through the artery.
Of all the risk factors for PAD, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension, the top contributor is smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and promotes faster disease progression.
Peripheral artery disease doesn’t cause symptoms until the plaque is large enough to significantly limit the flow of blood through the artery. Then you experience symptoms such as:
When blood flow is limited, the loss of oxygen leads to ulcers. Arterial ulcers don’t heal without intensive wound care; instead, they keep enlarging and cause serious infections. In severe PAD, the lack of oxygen kills tissues and leads to gangrene that requires amputation.
During your physical exam at Downriver Heart and Vascular Specialists, your provider checks for weak pulses in your legs and listens to the blood flowing through your legs. They may perform additional on-site diagnostic testing, such as:
Your provider also runs blood tests to check your cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels.
Your treatment begins with making lifestyle changes to lower your risk factors and prevent PAD from getting worse. The team helps you develop a diet and exercise plan and supports your efforts to lose weight or stop smoking.
Your provider at Downriver Heart and Vascular Specialists may prescribe medications that prevent blood clots, slow the progression of plaque build-up, lower your blood pressure, or reduce cholesterol.
Downriver Heart and Vascular Specialists also offers peripheral rehab. This specialized program includes medically supervised exercise that trains your leg muscles to use oxygen more efficiently.
In addition to providing advanced wound care for arterial ulcers, the team offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This treatment increases the amount of oxygen in your blood which in turn improves wound healing.
When your artery is significantly blocked, your provider performs a minimally invasive procedure to eliminate the blockage, such as angioplasty, stenting, or atherectomy. The team often treats PAD in the practice’s fully equipped peripheral angio lab.
If you have leg pain or need treatment for PAD, call Downriver Heart and Vascular Specialists, or book an appointment online today.