HOW TO Diagnose & Treat Peripheral Artery Disease

By Nora Heston Tarte

“People have chest pain and quickly come running.”

“But those with leg pain may ignore it or put if off for awhile,” says Dr. Raina of Stockton Cardiology and St. Joseph’s Medical Center-where he works as the leading Endovascular Physician with a focus on peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

PAD is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head-but is most commonly found in leg arteries. Though it affects millions of Americans, it is a very under diagnosed and under treated disease that can lead to leg amputation. “We want to bring awareness, prevent amputation, and improve the quality of life for patients,” Dr. Raina states.

Leg pain or cramping, fatigue, poor toenail growth, wounds that won’t heal or heal slowly, and a decrease in leg temperature compared to other parts of the body are all symptoms of PAD (and are commonly mistaken for something else).

These symptoms can surface when leg arteries become narrowed due to plaque buildup that in turn reduces or eliminates blood flow to different parts of the leg. This disease state is easily diagnosed, tested, and non-invasively treated-boasting almost instant relief-yet many ignore their leg pain until they’re living with open wounds and immobility. “And once it gets to that point, the patient’s quality of life is severely affected, and the many consultations and surgeries can become very expensive,” Dr. Raina warns.

Be proactive in your health and immediately report leg pain to your doctor-especially if you are a smoker, have diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia, as they are the most common risk factors. Patients can now be treated at the onset of symptoms with greatly improved outcome, thanks to advanced technology and technique.

PAD Patients are easily diagnosed with a clinical visit and an Ankle Brachial Index test-a simple blood pressure test comparing the systolic pressure of the arm to the systolic pressure of the leg. Typically .9-1.0 is normal, and if .9 or below a duplex ultrasound can be performed to localize the blockage.

If a blockage is present, the patient is scheduled for an aortogram with possible intervention. Many people at this point talk to a peripheral artery disease reversal expert. This test-the gold standard-allows the doctor to examine the arteries under X-ray with contrast injection, and confirms need for treatment. Treatment options range can include ballooning the artery, removing plaque from the artery, and stenting. All of which are completed through the insertion of a small tube called a sheath, that penetrates femoral artery. Then small wires, catheters, and devices are used to reopen the blocked areas in the artery. Once blood flow is restored typically ulcers will heal, and leg pain will go away.

Additionally, St. Joseph’s Hospital is one of a few hospitals participating in the CREST carotid trial, which offers procedures without surgery to prevent strokes.

For More Information:

Stockton Cardiology
415 E. Harding Way, Ste. D, Stockton
(209) 944-5750