Five Star Vein and Wellness Blog

Learning About Peripheral Artery Disease

Posted by Robert W. Ruess MD | Feb 10, 2014 2:58:44 PM

Like many circulatory illnesses, peripheral artery disease (PAD) can manifest many confusing symptoms and side effects. As with risk factors for other venous disease, the risk factors for PAD are highly variable, and numerous diagnostic methods must be employed to help doctors understand exactly what’s going on in each case.

Let’s discuss a few basics on how these conditions arise and what to do once they make themselves known.

Basic Disease Mechanism

Peripheral artery disease is also known as peripheral arterial disease. It occurs when arteries become narrowed or obstructed. Almost all PAD in America is caused by some combination of the following:

  • Heredity
  • Hypertension
  • Nicotine abuse
  • Obesity
  • Disorders of fat and cholesterol metabolism
  • Diabetes

Unfortunately, patients who have any of these problems usually go for years without experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. This is because the body has a safety net that allows people to live, seemingly disease-free, without any problems for years. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, blockage in the arteries [PAD] gradually builds up until there is a major problem. For example, it is estimated that 25% of people who have heart disease find out about it when they have a heart attack—without any warning symptoms.

The human body is designed to allow a 50% narrowing of the diameter of the artery before the beginning of end-organ damage occurs. In other words, you can have mild to moderate PAD which has narrowed the supplying artery to an organ [heart, brain, kidney, leg, etc.] and not have any significant damage to that organ or have any symptoms.

As the PAD progresses, then damage and symptoms begin to occur.

What Are PAD Symptoms?

The scope of this article does not permit us to go into detail and list all the symptoms from the organs that are suffering from lack of blood supply. Since the symptoms and signs are the result of inadequate blood flow to a specific organ, common sense would lead one to thoughts of pain, organ dysfunction, and damage.

What To Do If You Develop Symptoms Or Signs Of PAD Or Suspect That You Might Have PAD?

In medical school we were taught that if we did not suspect the diagnosis, we would never make the diagnosis. So if you suspect that you may have this problem, then you should see your Family Physician.

You may even need an opinion of someone who is a specialist in diagnosing and treating vascular disease, a Vascular Surgeon. The physicians can make the diagnosis and recommend treatment.

How Does One Prevent Or Medically Treat PAD?

This is not Rocket Science. Looking above under “Basic Disease Mechanism,” one can see the things associated with the problem. Do you have any of these? If so you are at risk.

The single most important thing for all patients to realize is that this is an on-going problem. You will have to deal with this the rest of your life. So lifestyle changes are mandatory if one is going to maximize the battle against the forces of PAD.

It will require a team approach—the team consists of you and your doctor being actively involved. If your doctor is not willing to be an active participant—then fire him/her.

Look at that list above again. Make a decision to get an interested physician and get to the bottom of the factors listed to allow nutrient-filled blood, filled with oxygen to your organs, allowing you to maximize the quality of your life.

Dr. Robert Ruess of Five Star Vein Institute is a Vein Specialist, certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine. With offices located in Las Vegas and Mesquite Nevada, Dr. Ruess can An help you with your vein issues. Contact one of his offices today to schedule an appointment.

Topics: Medical Advice, Circulatory Illnesses, Dr. Robert W. Ruess, Five Star Vein Institute, Peripheral Artery Disease

Written by Robert W. Ruess MD