According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, Peripheral Artery Disease (or PAD) is a chronic circulatory condition that affects up to 10 million Americans. September is PAD Awareness Month and CTVS aims to educate people about this condition in hopes of driving those numbers down.
PAD can be a serious condition that causes narrowing of arteries and restricted blood flow to the extremities, which if left untreated can lead to amputation of a limb.
In addition to poor circulation in the legs and feet, other common side effects of PAD include acute pain, cramping, tiredness or fatigue in the legs, and non-healing foot ulcers.
PAD is caused by the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries and is most common in those who suffer from:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Atherosclerosis (the hardening or narrowing of arteries)
- Final stages of renal disease
There is a unique link between people who suffer from diabetes, PAD and foot ulcers.
Here’s what our PAD specialists at CTVS want you to know about it:
How are diabetes, PAD and foot ulcers related?
Diabetes causes the body to experience increased blood glucose (sugar) levels, which in turn can lead to nerve and tissue damage as well as loss of feeling in the extremities. If even the tiniest wound develops on the foot in someone who has diabetes, they may not notice or feel it, or it may have a difficult time healing because of poor circulation from the associated PAD. These non-healing ulcers can grow quite large and become seriously infected if not treated properly and quickly with hygienic wound care. Infected ulcers have the potential to lead to amputation if there is extensive tissue damage.
How common are PAD and foot ulcers in people with diabetes?
Research shows that PAD occurs in approximately 20 to 50 percent of people who have diabetes. Those who already have one complication from diabetes are often susceptible to others, such as the development of foot ulcers.
How are PAD and foot ulcers treated?
Our vascular team at CTVS offers several effective treatments methods for PAD and associated foot ulcers including:
- Medical therapy and coordination of care with a nutritionist, exercise therapist, and/or smoking cessation specialist if necessary
- Minimally invasive procedures such as an arteriogram to restore blood to extremities
- Surgical revascularization, including arterial bypass, when minimally invasive options are not successful
Is PAD preventable?
Following a healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to prevent PAD. This includes keeping diabetes and blood glucose levels in check, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising frequently, and avoiding the use of tobacco.
When should you see a specialist for PAD?
You should make an appointment immediately with one of our board-certified vascular specialists if you experience any of the following:
- Pain or cramping in the legs with activity
- Leg discoloration or loss of hair on your legs
- Severe signs of tissue damage such as a black or darkened appearance around a wound or on the feet or toes