Most of us are aware of coronary artery disease, but a similar disease that affects the other blood vessels in your body is just as serious yet most of us aren't aware of it. Nancy Naeve Brown has more from two renowned vascular specialists in the region about PAD.
PAD or peripheral artery disease is the hardening of the arteries that occurs outside of the heart. About 10 million people in this country have this disease which translates to 5% of people older than 50. It can affect the blood vessels in your leg, your aorta which is the big blood vessel that goes through your abdomen and the arteries in your neck which if blocked could lead to a stroke.
Dr. Michael Bacharach with North Central Heart says, "We now recognize that peripheral arterial disease is much more common than previously thought. It can affect any of the blood vessels in the body."
Dr. Timothy Sullivan is the Chair of Vascular Surgery at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. He recently spoke at the 16th Annual North Central Heart Vascular Symposium in Sioux Falls. He tells us, "Patients with PAD are at high risk of cardiac events, they are at high risk of stroke and at high risk of cardiovascular events so it's imperative they be diagnosed and appropriately treated to prolong their life."
One of the more common signs of milder PAD is leg pain, typically in your calves, when you walk but is relieved when you rest. You might not think twice about that, but if you smoke, you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a family history of heart or vascular disease you really need to see your doctor right away.
Dr. Sullivan says, "Patients with severe forms of PAD can develop toothache-like pain, something called rest pain in your feet and toes which can lead to ulcers or more severely gangrene. It could result in a lost limb."
Since half the people with peripheral artery disease don't have symptoms it's important to get screened. The Avera Heart Hospital offers a simple non-evasive vascular check for only $50 that screens for stoke, abdominal aortic aneurysm and blocked arteries in your legs. You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is. Make an appointment today!
Call 877-AT-AVERA and if you combine the vascular screening with a heart check (also $50) it only costs $75. It's quite a deal.