Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a health problem involving the arteries that lead away from the core of your body, towards the periphery. (Legs, Arms and Head.) As a person ages the inside of their arteries become narrower as plaque deposits there. Due to decreased amount of blood, the tissues that the arteries supply get less oxygen and nutrients. This can cause cramps in muscles and even poor healing of cuts and bruises. 

(Picture of PAD from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov)

     The risk factors associated with this disease are diabetes, smoking, uncontrolled levels of cholesterol in your blood and high blood pressure. Together these problems are the perfect storm in which PAD may develop over time.

**** Even if an artery in your leg becomes completely blocked by plaque, the lower part of your leg may still be receiving blood from other arteries that take over its workload! This is called collateral circulation. ****

    One of the best ways to protect against PAD is to have your doctor monitor you for health problems that put you at risk and remove other risk factors within your control. With that being said, an Ankle-brachial Index (ABI) is a simple and painless test that your doctor can perform to diagnose PAD.

(Picture of an ABI being performed from http://www.svnabi.org)

            Your brachial blood pressure, taken from both arms, is measured against the blood pressure taken from arteries on the top of your foot and the back of your leg. These measurements are then used in a formula to determine if the disease is present, and if so, at what level. In addition to arterial tests, many machines used to calculate ABI also measure the venous return in a patient to evaluate them for venous insufficiency simultaneously.

            If you are diagnosed with PAD there are several treatment options depending on the severity of the disease. Medications for Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Unregulated Blood Sugar levels and medicine to prevent blood clots form forming may all be prescribed to help treat Peripheral Artery Disease. In the worst cases, where clots have completely occluded an artery, surgery may be deemed necessary to re-establish the blood flow.

            PAD screenings should be a valuable tool in assessing your vascular health, especially in the lower extremity. PAD testing is performed in the office and is covered by most insurance plans. It is a mandatory test for diabetics, those with a family history of PAD and other vascular disorders. Dr. Garibaldi and Dr. Harper both utilize these methods to provide the best care they can for you and your family.