As seen in the February 2010 Issue of the Ozaukee News Graphic 'Ask the Doc' column.
New, Non-Surgical Treatments for Peripheral Artery Disease
By Andrew Feiring, MD
Today’s new, non-surgical treatments are saving limbs and lives for people with peripheral artery disease or PAD, a buildup of plaque in the peripheral arteries. PAD occurs most commonly in the pelvis, legs, and arteries in the neck. The plaque narrows the inside of the vessels, constricting blood flow.
A buildup of plaque in peripheral vessels is an indication of a buildup in vessels throughout the body. Left untreated, PAD may result in amputation, heart attack, stroke, renal failure, and death.
Symptoms include pain when walking and a foot ulcer or sore that does not heal. Some people may not have significant symptoms. Risk factors for PAD are the same as for heart disease: smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, and family history of vascular disease. The disease affects up to 12 million people in the United States.
The earlier the disease is detected and treated, the better the outcome and the lower the risk for heart attack, stroke, and leg amputation. While PAD can be treated with diet, exercise, and some medications, a procedure to open the blocked arteries is the only way to restore normal blood flow. The good news is that blocked leg arteries often can be opened using newer non-surgical methods.
New and effective treatments for PAD include:
These treatments relieve symptoms, increase independence, and prevent leg amputations and, in conjunction with aggressive risk-factor modification, greatly reduce the risk of serious heart and vascular events. Each is a tool for improving blood flow, and the choice of which one(s) to use varies with each patient.
Dr. Andrew Feiring is the Director of the Cardiac and Catheterization Labs at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospitals on Milwaukee’s east side.