Peripheral artery disease (PAD) refers to blockages or plaques in arteries outside of the heart. These blockages interfere with the blood flow to the brain, arms, organs and legs, yet are often silent until a very late stage. PAD in one location is an indicator of blockages throughout the body and represents an increased heart attack and stroke risk. When symptoms of PAD do occur, they can be easily confused with other diseases and not recognized early.
PAD affects between 12 and 20 million people in the United States. However, less than five percent of those patients have been diagnosed because many patients do not experience symptoms until the disease process is far advanced. failure to treat those with PAD can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, complications such as stroke, aneurysm rupture, difficulty walking with pain, non-healing wounds, limb loss and even death.
Patients at risk for these vascular diseases include those with age greater than fifty, a history of smoking, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, renal failure, and a family history of vascular disease. If diagnosed early, serious complications may be avoided by modifying risk factors, medical therapy or by appropriate vascular specialist intervention. Simple measures such as diet, weight loss, smoking cessation, blood pressure control, cholesterol / lipid control and glucose control in diabetes can stabilize and even reverse some of these disease processes.
The Surgeons of Michigan Vascular Center diagnose PAD with non- invasive painless testing. They also treat PAD with medicines and minimally invasive endovascular procedures as well as surgery. Patients also might choose to participate in numerous ongoing clinical trials, which provide access to the treatments of tomorrow.
The Michigan Vascular Center has actively promoted vascular health awareness and offers free ultrasound screenings to access your risk aneurysm (see Vascular Screening on the right sidebar).
If you are over 50 years old and your parent or sibling has been diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, discuss this with your primary care physician or call 810-720-ASAP (2727) to see if you qualify for a free screening.