Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), also known as claudication, poor circulation, or vascular disease, is a chronic, life-threatening circulatory condition. PAD causes narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the arms and legs. The primary cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries. This occurs when arterial inflammation, cholesterol, calcium and scar tissue build up, forming plaque that clogs the arteries and slows blood flow to the limbs. The more plaque that builds up on the inside walls of the blood vessels, the more the arteries lose flexibility and narrow, putting patients at greater risk. Risk factors for PAD, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and age over 60. PAD patients are also at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.
Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)
PAD patients are at high risk of developing critical limb ischemia (CLI), a very severe condition of PAD that requires immediate comprehensive treatment by a vascular surgeon or vascular specialist. Without appropriate intervention, CLI will not improve on its own. Complications of CLI can include sores and wounds that won’t heal in the legs and feet. Left untreated, the complications of CLI could result in amputation of the affected limb.
Treatment for CLI can be complex and individualized, and can include medications, endovascular treatments and arterial surgery. The goals for treating CLI are to relieve pain, heal ulcers, prevent limb loss, improve patient function and prolong overall survival.
Blockages of the vessels can restrict blood flow to the muscles, causing muscle cramps, tightness or weakness, especially during activity. In the early stages of PAD, patients may not experience any symptoms. If PAD is not treated, though, blockages may continue to grow and restrict, or even completely block, blood flow. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain or cramping in legs and calf triggered by activity
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness on lower leg or foot
- Sores on toes, legs or feet that won’t heal
- Change in color of legs
Contact Us Today
If you think you are at risk of PAD or are experiencing any of these symptoms, the doctors at Cardiovascular Consultants, Ltd. can help! PAD can be diagnosed through a variety of non-invasive, office-based procedures, and if necessary, CVC offers state-of-the-art, safe and effective outpatient treatment options. Please call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians that specialize in PAD.