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Peripheral Artery Disease

Treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease -- 718.780.3288

Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD is when the arteries in the legs become stiff or narrow due to plaque build-up and block the flow of blood and oxygen from the heart. PAD is sometimes called Leg Artery Disease and can cause discomfort anywhere in the legs between the hips down to the upper feet when walking. It may even lead to limb loss, heart attack or stroke.

Am I at Risk?
Peripheral Artery Disease is more likely to develop as you age, and the risk increases with the presence of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent the onset of PAD quit smoking, exercise by walking several times a week, eat a healthy diet and maintain an ideal body weight, manage diabetes and take measures to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. 

What are the Symptoms?
Patients with PAD may not feel any symptoms other than intermittent discomfort in legs that goes away when they stop walking. The discomfort could be tightness, heaviness, cramping or weakness that comes with activity. Advanced PAD may lead to critical limb ischemia, which is pain even when at rest, and in its most severe stages, PAD patients may develop painful sores on their toes and feet that could lead to gangrene.

How is it Diagnosed?
A routine physical exam which includes listening to the heartbeat, taking blood pressure and asking about medical history may indicate the potential presence of PAD. If you fall into a high-risk category, your doctor may take your pulse behind the knees or on the feet. If PAD is suspected, an Ankle-Brachial Index may be performed which compares the blood pressure in the arms and legs, and a cholesterol test may be recommended.

Further testing may be prescribed to better understand the extent of the PAD and your physician may choose from several procedures, including ultrasounds, non-invasive imaging tests (MRA), and CT scans or Angiography that use contrast dye to highlight the arteries. Angiography is typically used for patients with more severe PAD.

What is the Treatment?
How your NYM physician treats PAD depends on the severity of the condition and ranges from lifestyle changes (ie - smoking cessation, exercise) to medications (ie to lower cholesterol or blood pressure) to surgery. 

At NYM, we perform the following procedures:
• Angioplasty and Stenting this is a less invasive procedure where a surgeon inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter through a small puncture site in the groin. It is guided through the blood vessels and into the affected artery where it first takes a picture (angiogram) and then another catheter is inserted with a tiny balloon that inflates and deflates, flattening the plaque against the walls of the artery. Finally, a stent is inserted to hold the artery open.
• Endarterectomy this is when a surgeon makes an incision and removes the plaque that has built up inside the inner lining of the artery
• Bypass this is when a surgeon creates a detour around a blocked artery, allowing for free passage of blood and oxygen
• Amputation this is a last-resort treatment done in only the most extreme cases of PAD.

For more information on these procedures, talk to one of our surgeons by calling 718.780.3288.

Learn more about Peripheral Artery Disease.