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Peripheral Artery Disease

Why should I be concerned?

Your peripheral arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart to your arms and legs. Healthy peripheral arteries are smooth and unobstructed, allowing blood to flow freely to your legs, and provide oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients that your legs need. Typically with age, the peripheral arteries build up plaque, a sticky substance made up mostly of fat and cholesterol. Plaque narrows the passageway within the arteries and causes them to become stiff and blocked. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) results when the peripheral arteries become too narrow or obstructed and limit the blood flow to your legs. If left untreated, PAD can cause pain or aching in your legs with walking, resting pain in your foot at night in bed, non-healing sores or infections in your toes or feet, and can lead to gangrene and limb loss in its most severe form. In addition, it can be associated with other serious arterial conditions leading to heart attacks and stroke. PAD affects more than eight million people in the United States, especially those over 50, African Americans, and Hispanics.

Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medications, minimally invasive angioplasty/stenting, or open bypass surgery.

Angioplasty/Stenting

A treatment called angioplasty is used to re-open your arteries. A small balloon is inflatedinside the blood vessel to stretch and open the artery allowing the blood to flow freely.

Sometimes the vascular surgeon inserts a small mesh tube called a stent to support the artery in staying open. Angioplasty requires only local anesthesia and, sometimes, mild sedation; patients typically spend the night in hospital and are able to return to normal activity in one or two days.

 

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