Older adults who experience leg cramping or heaviness when walking short distances may think it’s a normal part of aging, but these symptoms can signal a serious medical condition called peripheral arterial disease, according to healthcare providers with Virginia Interventional & Vascular Associates (VIVA). VIVA is helping raise awareness in the Fredericksburg region about symptoms, treatments, and prevention as part of the national Love Your Limbs™ campaign.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) causes blockages in the legs or arms. If untreated, it significantly increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and amputations.
“Adults of all ages should contact their physicians if they experience symptoms of PAD, but people who smoke, those with diabetes, and anyone over 50 years old should pay particular attention,” said R. Donald Doherty, Jr., MD, a board certified and fellowship trained interventional radiologist with VIVA. “It is important to start treating PAD before it progresses to an even more dangerous condition, called critical limb ischemia.”
Information on PAD is available on VIVA’s Website, at www.vivassociates.com/services/peripheral-arterial-disease/. The national campaign is sponsored by Bard Peripheral Vascular. VIVA professionals have been visiting local doctors’ offices to provide campaign materials for improved patient education.
PAD Symptoms Can Include:
- Burning or aching in feet or toes while resting
- Painful leg cramping, especially while walking
- Numbness, weakness, or heaviness in the limbs
- A patch of skin on legs or feet that is cool to the touch
- Sores on feet in diabetics
- Loss of hair on legs or feet
- Chronic leg or arm sores that do not heal
Painless tests for diagnosing PAD include the ankle-brachial index (ABI) and CT scans. Physicians may also use MR angiograms or catheter angiograms.
“Treatments vary depending upon the patient’s condition,” said Dr. Doherty. “Front-line treatments include surgical bypass, angioplasty and stenting, but we also have newer procedures that are minimally invasive, including laser atherectomy, and rotational atherectomy.”
- Stop smoking, the #1 risk factor for PAD
- Control diabetes
- Manage high blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Improve diet
- Get cardiovascular exercise
- Care for your feet