|ASK THE EXPERT: Peripheral Arterial Disease |
Q: I’ve noticed lately that at the end of the day, my legs bother me. They feel tired and sometimes I get a cramping sensation. Should I be concerned?
Vascular Surgeon Brian King, MD, responds:
A: As we get older, we tend to develop new aches and pains. But sometimes leg pain has nothing to do with muscle strain. It could be peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
PAD can develop when plaque (cholesterol and other fats) builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the legs and arms. Too much plaque can clog the arteries and block blood flow, causing pain in the legs while walking or climbing stairs. The pain is often described as a heaviness, tightness or cramping in the buttocks, thigh or calf.
Other than pain, symptoms of PAD include sores or wounds on the feet or legs that don’t heal, color changes in the skin of the feet and poor or decreased nail and hair growth on the toes and legs. As PAD advances, it can cause foot pain at night. Sometimes it is so bad, it can wake you up.
Treatment for PAD begins with making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, exercising, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels and managing diabetes. There are also medications that can help. If the condition persists, PAD can be treated using minimally invasive procedures, such as angioplasty (a procedure in which a tiny balloon is used to open a blocked artery to improve blood flow), stenting (insertion of a tiny metal tube used to keep the artery open), atherectomy (cutting the blockage out) or with a laser. Traditional (bypass) surgery may be an option for patients who are not candidates for the minimally invasive techniques or with more advanced disease.
Most of us wouldn’t ignore a new pain in our chest, right? It’s just as important to tell your doctor about any new leg pain, because just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs could mean you are at increased risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
When choosing a vascular surgeon, be sure to select a specialist affiliated with Bridgeport Hospital:
||Stephen Bauer, MD
Seth Blattman, MD
Paul Demartini, MD
Paul Gagne, MD
Marsel Huribal, MD
Brian King, MD
||Taras Kucher, MD
Timothy Manoni, MD
Ben Marsan, MD
Michael Sergi, MD
Chung Shin, MD