Peripheral Artery Disease
Each year, more than 8 million American men and women over the age of 50 are diagnosed with Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. PAD occurs when cholesterol and scar tissue build up in arteries, blocking the flow of blood. These blockages can cause a heart attack if not diagnosed and treated in time. Bingham Memorial’s Dr. David Shelley says that early detection and treatment of PAD is important for maintaining proper circulation in the body.
Symptoms of PAD include fatigue, heaviness, tiredness or pain in the legs or arms, and should not be mistaken for inevitable consequences of aging. PAD is serious, but can be fixed if diagnosed early. The most common test for PAD is the Ankle-Brachial Index or ABI. This painless exam uses a special stethoscope to compare the blood pressure in your feet and arms. Based on the results of your ABI, along with your symptoms and risk factors for PAD, your physician can decide if further tests are needed.
Treatments for this condition usually include lifestyle changes and medications to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If decreased blood flow to the legs is causing injury to the feet and toes, a foot care program to prevent sores or infection may be prescribed. This may also include referral to a podiatrist. In cases where blockage cannot be resolved with other means, an Interventional Radiologist such as Dr. Shelley can perform a variety of minimally invasive procedures such as balloon angioplasty and stenting. Balloon angioplasty and stenting has generally replaced invasive surgery as the first line of treatment for PAD.
Dr. Shelley encourages men and women over the age of 50 to be alert to the symptoms of PAD. Talk to your doctor about the risks, and ask about the simple tests that can diagnose reduced blood flow to your lower legs.
If you or a loved one would like more information on Peripheral Artery Disease and the treatment options available to you, you can reach the Artery & Vein Specialists of Idaho, and Dr. Shelley’s office inside Bingham Memorial Hospital at 233-4938.
Louis Kraml, CEO Bingham Memorial Hospital