How does PAD affect your life? [Dr. Rundback]

Q: How does PAD affect your life?

A: Peripheral Arterial Disease can affect an individual’s life in a number of ways. Peripheral Arterial Disease refers to a condition where hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, affects the leg arteries. This is as opposed to affecting the heart arteries, which causes heart attack, or the neck arteries, which can cause a stroke. In Peripheral Arterial Disease, the blockage in leg arteries can produce a series of symptoms. The first is a pain when you exercise or walk. In this condition, which is called claudication, you have blockages in your leg arteries that don’t affect you when you’re sitting around or at rest. As you start to walk or exercise, the demands of the muscle for increased blood flow and oxygen delivery are increased and the blockage in the arteries prevents that demand from being met. You get pain in your legs, often experienced as cramping in your calves. This is relieved when you stop and rest, because the demands of our blood flow decrease, but again, as you resume activity, they recur.

As the blockages get worse, now you have insufficient blood flow to support the needs of the leg and the foot, even at rest. Particularly at night, you get severe pain when you elevate your legs and no longer get gravity assisting blood flow. Additionally, you are calmer, your heart rate is lower, and your blood pressure is lower. In this situation, you get what we call ischemic rest pain. It is only relieved by dangling your feet and moving around to get gravity to help with blood flow, and this can be very, very debilitating for people.

Finally, in the most advanced forms of blockage in the leg arteries, or atherosclerosis, you get what we call Critical Limb Ischemia or Chronic Limb-Threatening Ischemia.  This is where the blockages result in a breakdown of the skin, ulceration, or you have an ulcer that forms for other reasons such as poor foot care or poor nail care, and now those wounds don’t heal.

These situations are very dangerous, can progress very rapidly, and result in gangrene infection and potential limb loss. That’s where we, here at American Endovascular and Amputation Prevention, specialize. We treat extremely difficult blockages in the smaller arteries, particularly below the knee into the foot, to help allow wound healing 80% of the time, even when other specialists have failed to restore blood flow.

More videos from the interview with Dr. Rundback of the NJ Endovascular & Amputation Prevention as he explains the importance of foot health when you have Peripheral Artery Disease:

Request a consultation at your nearest American Endovascular center today.