What is P-A-D and how to tell if you have it

Do you know the signs of P-A-D?

P-A-D stands for peripheral arterial disease, and it is a range of conditions that affect the arteries in the lower part of your body.

"Peripheral arterial disease is caused by multiple things," says Dr. Marc Burrell, Interventional Radiologist with Mercy Medical Center. "One of the primary things is atherosclerosis of the vessels, or calcification of the vessels. Smoking also causes it, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol."

This calcification, or narrowing, causes reduced blood flow to the legs, causing dull aches and pains after a short amount of time walking.

"It can lead to limb loss," says Burrell. "What I mean by limb loss is amputations of the foot, the calf, and above the knee too."

To diagnose this, doctors use an ultrasound to gather an ankle brachial index, which measures the blood flow in the upper body and the lower body and compares the difference.

Visually, doctors also use angiograms to view the arteries and look for narrowing or blocks.

They then use catheters and and wires to open the arteries and remove the calcium.

"There's actually a widening and opening of the vessel and the reduced callibar has been expanded, and there is in-line flow to the leg," says Burrell.

Doctors follow up with patients a week after the procedure to see if the flow has improved.

"That's our main goal; to keep limbs for these patients and to improve the lifestyles of patients that might have claudication that might be limiting their activities," says Burrell.

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