Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which blood flow to the extremities (limbs – arms and legs) of the body is restricted due to narrowed arteries. It is a common circulatory problem which is also known as peripheral arterial disease. When a person develops this condition they don’t receive enough blood – owing to which leg pain while walking is a common symptom of this condition. This problem is mainly due to atherosclerosis (accumulation of fatty deposits or plaque in the arteries) of the peripheral arteries. In addition, Peripheral artery disease can also be a sign of widespread atherosclerosis in the arteries that supply blood to the brain and heart – which may increase the risk of brain stroke and heart attacks.
Symptoms of Peripheral artery disease
The symptoms associated with peripheral artery disease may often go unnoticed by many people as they assume those to be due to less serious problems. Pain while walking is a common symptom – feeling pain in the hip or leg muscles while climbing stairs or walking and feeling tiredness or cramping pain in the leg with activity. The pain goes away after taking a rest and returns back when the person walks or climbs stairs.
The other symptoms include:
Painful cramping in calf muscles or in the thighs
A change in the colour of the leg
Weakness or numbness in the leg
Slow-healing wounds – or sores on foot that won’t heal
Weak pulse in the feet or legs
Erectile dysfunction in men
Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease
Your cardiologist performs a physical examination to evaluate the signs of the condition. The doctor examines the pulse rate which could be weak below the narrowed area of your artery. The doctor also listens to the whooshing sounds in the affected arteries with a stethoscope. Restricted blood flow causes poor wound healing in the affected area and the affected limb may have decreased blood pressure.
Another common test to diagnose PAD is an ankle-branchial index (ABI). This test helps in getting comparative account of the blood pressure in the arm to that of blood pressure in the ankle.
To evaluate the severity of PAD during walking – doctors let the patient walk on the treadmill and take the reading before and after the exercise.
Another test is a Doppler ultrasound. It is an ultrasound imaging technique used to determine blood flow through the blood vessels and detect narrowed or blocked arteries.
This technique is used to diagnose narrowed blood vessels by using a contrast material or dye into the blood vessels and then monitoring the blood flow through the arteries.
To monitor the flow of contrast material your doctor uses X-ray imaging or computerized tomography angiography (CTA) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).
In a catheter angiography procedure, an interventional cardiologist guides a catheter through the groin artery to the area where the artery is narrowed and injects a dye as well. This is both a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure that allows the doctor to widen the narrowed artery by inflating a balloon and then administer medicines to improve blood flow.
Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment in Hyderabad
An interventional cardiologist plans the treatment with these objectives – to relieve the symptoms and to stop the progression of atherosclerosis in the body. In the initial stages of the disease, the doctor suggests lifestyle changes including changes in diet, food habits, exercise, and weight management. If the person has high blood pressure and cholesterol, cardiologist prescribes appropriate medicines to manage blood pressure and cholesterol. For diabetic patients’ medication to control blood sugar may be prescribed. Aspirin or clopidogrel may also be prescribed to lower the risk of blood clot formation.
Angioplasty is performed to open up a narrowed artery. This procedure is the same as the one that interventional cardiologists perform to open the heart artery.
An experienced interventional cardiologist will recommend a supervised exercise program – apart from medications or angioplasty – for faster recovery and pain-free walking. A healthy lifestyle includes eating a healthy diet, exercising and sound sleep. This will help in the successful management of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
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