Am I at Risk for Arterial Disease?

Am I at Risk for Arterial Disease?

More than 6 million adults in the United States have arterial disease, also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Living with PAD increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. 

If you have leg pain, you may have arterial disease. However, arterial disease may occur without causing symptoms, or the symptoms you experience initially may be attributed to something else. How do you know if you’re at risk for arterial disease?

At Advanced Vascular Solutions in Sebastian, Florida, Dr. Hadi Shalhoub specializes in diagnosing and treating arterial disease. Because arterial disease is often overlooked, we’re taking this opportunity to share with you the factors that might put you at risk for this serious, but treatable, condition so you can seek treatment promptly. 

About arterial disease

You may know that having high cholesterol can clog the arteries to your heart, a condition known as coronary artery disease (CAD). But blockage isn’t limited to the arteries in your heart.

The buildup of plaque along blood vessel walls that causes narrowing and blockage — atherosclerosis — can affect any artery in your body. This includes the peripheral arteries, which are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood to your arms and legs. 

PAD, is the narrowing and blockage of the peripheral arteries. Though PAD may affect any peripheral artery, it most often develops in the legs. 

Risk factors for arterial disease

PAD and CAD are two distinct health problems. However, the two conditions are related. If you have PAD, your risk of developing CAD increases significantly, as does your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. 

The risk factors for peripheral arterial disease are similar to the risk factors for CAD. You may be at risk of arterial disease if you have:

Smoking also puts you at risk, as does your age. Although you can develop PAD in your 40s, your risk increases as you get older. 

Signs and symptoms of arterial disease

If you experience leg pain when walking or climbing stairs that goes away when you stop moving, you might have PAD. This type of leg pain, known as claudication, is the most common symptom of PAD. 

Most people feel the pain in their calf, but you may have pain in your buttocks or thighs. You may also experience burning or numbness in your legs, or your legs may feel heavy or tired.

Unfortunately, not everyone with PAD has symptoms. If you have any of the risk factors noted above, but no symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an evaluation. 

Getting checked and treated

It’s easy to get checked for PAD, and once diagnosed, you can take steps to improve blood flow through your peripheral arteries. We use two noninvasive tests when evaluating a patient for arterial disease: ankle-brachial index (ABI) and vascular ultrasound.

ABI

For the ABI test, we compare blood pressure in your arm with the blood pressure in your ankle. We may also use a hand-held Doppler device when checking your blood pressure so we can listen to the flow of blood. A decrease in blood flow in the legs may indicate PAD.

Vascular ultrasound

We use our in-house ultrasound machine to confirm if you have arterial disease. With this noninvasive test, we examine the arteries in your legs, looking for areas of narrowing or blockage. The ultrasound test also can help determine the degree of narrowing so we can develop the right treatment plan.

For the treatment of PAD, we recommend eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. We also provide treatments to help control any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to your PAD, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

If you have severe narrowing or blockage, we may recommend vascular surgery to improve blood flow to your legs. 

Are you at risk for arterial disease? We can provide the diagnosis and care you need to improve your health and lower your risk of developing more serious health problems. Call our office, or click the “Book online” button to schedule a consultation today.

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