Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD is a dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening condition where arteries experience a reduction in blood flow.

The disease affects more than 3 million people in the U.S. every year, and cardiologists like Dr. Eugen Ivan at the Heart and Vascular Center at Comanche County Memorial Hospital say it can sometimes feel like pain in your legs while you’re walking, discomfort in the calves, and a difference in walking or running. But 4 out of every 10 people with the condition say they never experienced symptoms.

“The most common manifestation is actually in the legs. You have a lot of arteries in the legs. For most people that’s 50% or half of your body, and when they’re attacked by atherosclerosis that’s the most likely part that will produce symptoms in patients. Many, many times patients put it off to old age, getting older, getting up in age, but most of the time that is not a normal part of aging to have discomfort in your calves that prevents you from walking, that’s abnormal,” explained Dr. Eugen Ivan.

If you suspect you may have PAD, a healthcare provider will examine your symptoms and medical history. Testing may include blood tests, ankle-brachial Index or A.B.I., ultrasounds on the leg or feet, or even an angiography, which uses X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to look at blocked arteries.

If someone is diagnosed with PAD, treatment can range anywhere from minor changes like the quitting of smoking, more exercise, and a healthier diet. But, when the blockage increases or intensifies, medications like statin, vasodilator or anticoagulants may be needed.

And in more severe cases, surgery may help.

“The treatment if it gets that far involves restoring the blood flow. So, the treatment involves what’s called an ‘angiogram,’ and it pinpoints the exact location of these blockages, and most of the time we can relieve them by putting stints in there. So stints as you may know are small metal-mesh tubes that keep the artery open for a long time,” said the cardiologist.

Remember, peripheral artery disease is not a death sentence, especially if you get checked by your local provider.

Ways to prevent it is by avoiding all tobacco use, increasing exercise, controlling blood pressure, and managing cholesterol and diabetes.

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