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Are You at Risk of Developing Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

If someone were to tell you they have heart disease, what would you think? That they’d wind up in the emergency room within days, after battling a heart attack? 

Thanks to Hollywood dramatization of certain types of heart disease — like heart attacks and strokes — many people remain unaware of other forms of heart disease, which can be far “quieter” but just as serious. 

One such condition is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which often doesn’t show any symptoms until it’s progressed quite a bit. Even then, symptoms of PAD are often mild or can be attributed to other things. 

As an expert vascular surgeon and physician, Dr. Anwar S. Gerges of i-Vascular Center of El Paso considers it his duty to educate people about these lesser known forms of heart disease. Here, learn everything you should know about your risk for developing PAD. 

Understanding peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease develops when a substance called plaque builds up along the interior surfaces of your arteries. Over time, plaque buildup can cause your arteries to narrow, clogging them up and limiting blood flow through the affected areas. When this happens, your peripheral arteries — the arteries throughout your extremities — don’t receive as much oxygenated blood as they should. PAD can affect your entire body, but it’s most commonly associated with the arms and legs.

Common signs and symptoms of PAD

Part of the reason that PAD becomes so problematic in later stages is because the early stages lack symptoms for many people. Typically, pain or cramping in the legs after physical activity is the first sign of PAD. But, most people will attribute this pain to the activity itself or something along the lines of, “I’m just getting old.” 

However, this symptom (called claudication) is serious and can help catch PAD early. 

Aside from claudication, other common signs of PAD include:

Risk factors for PAD

Like all diseases, some risk factors for PAD are non-modifiable, meaning you can’t change them. The non-modifiable risk factors include: 

However, the majority of risk factors for PAD are modifiable, meaning you can do something about them and lower your risk for this disease. 

Modifiable risk factors for PAD include:

Don’t let PAD go untreated

Don’t mistake PAD for being a benign disease because it shows only mild symptoms. Left untreated, PAD can cause serious complications. For example, critical limb ischemia (CLI) starts with an infection or sores on your lower extremities, and it can lead to gangrene or warrant amputation.

PAD can also lead to heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack (TIA) if your heart and brain don’t receive enough oxygenated blood.

When to see a doctor about PAD

If any of the above risk factors or symptoms apply to you, visit i-Vascular Center of El Paso as soon as you can. Dr. Gerges reviews your medical history, risk factors, symptoms, and lifestyle to evaluate your risk for PAD. 

If you get diagnosed with PAD, Dr. Gerges works with you to develop an individualized treatment plan. Most treatment plans for PAD include the following, depending on your unique situation:

If you have an advanced case of PAD, Dr. Gerges may recommend minimally invasive procedures, such as stenting. 

If you’re concerned about developing PAD, get in touch with Dr. Gerges right away. You can call our El Paso office at 915-529-0275 or our San Antonio office at 915-529-0275. You can also request your appointment time online or send a secure message to our team.

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