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Peripheral Vascular Awareness Month

Peripheral Vascular Awareness Month

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), is a common circulatory disorder that affects the blood vessels outside the heart and brain, particularly the arteries that supply blood to the limbs, such as the legs and arms. Here are some important things people should know about PAD:

1. Symptoms: Early stages of PAD may have no symptoms or have mild
symptoms. As the condition progresses, common symptoms include:
• Pain or cramping in the legs, typically during physical activity (intermittent
• Numbness or weakness in the legs.
• Coldness in the affected limb.
• Sores or wounds on the legs or feet that heal slowly or not at all.
• Changes in skin color.
• Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet.

2. Risk Factors: Several factors increase the risk of developing PVD:
• Smoking is a major risk factor.
• Diabetes.
• High blood pressure (hypertension).
• High cholesterol.
• Aging, as the risk increases with age.
• Family history of vascular disease.
• Obesity.
• Physical inactivity.

3. Diagnosis: PAD is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Common tests include ankle-brachial index (ABI) measurement, Doppler ultrasound, CT angiography, and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).

4. Complications: If left untreated, PAD can lead to serious complications, such as chronic leg pain, critical limb ischemia (severe obstruction of the arteries), tissue death (gangrene), and amputation.

5. Management and Treatment:
• Lifestyle Changes: Quitting smoking, adopting a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management are essential to managing PVD.
• Medications: Medications may be prescribed to manage risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
• Blood-thinning medications: These may be prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots.
• Endovascular Procedures: In some cases, minimally invasive procedures like angioplasty and stent placement may be performed to open narrowed
• Surgery: In severe cases, bypass surgery may be necessary to reroute blood flow around blocked arteries.

6. Prevention: Taking steps to reduce risk factors is crucial in preventing PAD. This includes lifestyle changes, regular check-ups, and managing chronic conditions.

7. Regular Check-Ups: If you have risk factors or experience symptoms of PAD, it's important to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent complications.

8. Multidisciplinary Care: PAD management often involves a team of healthcare
professionals, including vascular specialists, cardiologists, and primary care
physicians, working together to provide the best care and treatment options.

PAD is a very treatable diagnosis that, when identified early, rarely requires
surgical intervention and generally can be stabilized by lifestyle modification and
medical therapy. That’s why it is important to be aware of the risk factors,
symptoms, and management options. If you have one or more risk factors, your
chances of having PAD go up significantly. Early detection and appropriate
treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. It also can
relieve your symptoms and return you to your previous lifestyle. If you have
concerns about PAD, you can consult a vascular healthcare professional at
Vascular Surgery Associates for a consultation.

Peter Mackrell, MD Peter Mackrell, MD Peter Mackrell, MD, FACS, is a board-certified vascular surgeon at Vascular Surgery Associates, LLC, serving patients in Ellicott City, Towson, and Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Mackrell joined the practice in 2003.

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