Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) primarily affects the circulation of blood in one’s lower extremities, which includes the hips, legs, feet, etc. Symptoms come in the form of pain and numbness agitated by exercise.
In more severe cases, PAD can also cause infected sores that might require gangrene or amputation if left untreated. Said effects might also extend to fatal issues in the patient’s heart or brain especially when the patient is known to either be diabetic or a regular tobacco smoker.
There is no known cure for PAD. However, there are steps that one can take to help prevent, diagnose, and treat PAD.
The first step is to prevent PAD from either occurring or from progressing in the body. According to the NHS, the primary objective of someone with PAD is to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Which means that you should:
- Quit Smoking
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine
- Find ways of managing health issues that could have resulted in higher cholesterol, blood pressure, or glucose levels
Acting preventively will help keep your blood vessels healthy and make it unlikely for you to develop problems that might result in more severe symptoms.
The second step is to find out whether you have PAD. PAD appears both symptomatically and asymptomatically, so you might not experience the same symptoms that another patient does as quickly or as severely (or even experience symptoms at all.)
- Regular physical examinations and analysis of your medical history will help in diagnosing your risk of being afflicted with PAD
- Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) testing compares the blood pressure in your ankle to the blood pressure in your arm to unearth possible blockages in your arms and legs
It is important to go through check-ups and testing whenever possible, even if you have not displayed any of the symptoms, to be able to actively treat possible issues that might worsen your condition.
Once you are diagnosed with PAD, measures can be taken to help ease your condition. Treatment will depend on how PAD affects you specifically and can come in a variety of forms.
- Prescription Medication: If you are diabetic, then you will likely be prescribed drugs such as statins, antihypertensives, and antiplatelets. These prescription medications can help lower your cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and blood sugar levels.
- Surgical Procedures: In cases severe enough to warrant it, you might have to undergo revascularization — a form of surgery that manually restores the flow of blood in your legs. The two main types of revascularization include angioplasty (expanding blocked arteries) and artery bypass grafts (transporting blood vessels from another part of your body to bypass the blockages.)
- Clot Removal: In order to prevent the risk of heart attacks or strokes, medication is usually given to help prevent clots. However, if a clot does form and obstruct the flow of blood, it can be removed by direct injection with a catheter.
Can PAD be Cured?
In conclusion, Peripheral Arterial Disease cannot be cured. However, as is outlined above, there are steps that one can take in order to prevent, diagnose, and treat its underlying causes.
Prevention is the best way of making sure that you remain unaffected, a proper diagnosis will help determine your risk levels, and participating in procedures that help treat factors that might progress your PAD will make sure that you are in control of the situation.
- NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-arterial-disease-pad/treatment/.
- Lu, J T, and M A Creager. “The Relationship of Cigarette Smoking to Peripheral Arterial Disease.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15580157.
- “Peripheral Arterial Disease in People with Diabetes.” Diabetes Care, American Diabetes Association, 1 Dec. 2003, care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3333.