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Persistent leg pain, especially while walking, isn’t a normal part of getting older. You could have peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that causes narrowing in the arteries that can affect blood flow in the limbs.
Many people don’t experience symptoms until PAD worsens, so it’s important to see your doctor if you’re at risk of developing the disease. Getting the right care early can keep you safe from serious complications such as heart attack and amputation.
Schedule an appointment with a vascular surgeon today.
Dr. Syed T. Ahsan, a vascular medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health discusses the importance of recognizing and treating peripheral artery disease (PAD).
At Henry Ford, you have access to comprehensive tests and treatment to manage PAD symptoms and prevent complications. Our goal is to help you lead an active life.
You’ll work with a specialist with years of experience and training in diagnosing and treating vascular (circulatory system) diseases. Your doctors include:
PAD is also sometimes called peripheral vascular disease (PVD). It affects arteries carrying blood to the limbs, most commonly the legs. In PAD, the arteries become narrowed, which reduces blood flow.
When the legs don’t receive enough blood, two conditions can develop:
PAD results from atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. Cholesterol and other fatty substances in the blood can build up on artery walls, causing them to narrow.
The buildup, called plaque, also causes arteries to stiffen. Hardened arteries can’t widen to handle more blood flow when you need it, such as during exercise. Atherosclerosis keeps the legs from receiving enough blood and oxygen.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing PAD, such as:
The symptoms of PAD depend on whether the disease is in its early stages or has progressed. Symptoms typically occur in the legs, but can also occur in the arms if arteries become clogged there.
Usually, the first symptom to appear is occasional leg pain (intermittent claudication), which:
At Henry Ford, our vascular specialists conduct a thorough evaluation, usually with advanced diagnostic imaging, to determine what’s causing your symptoms. With an accurate diagnosis, we develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Starting with your first visit, we get to the source of your symptoms so you can start to feel better. Here’s what to expect in this visit:
We may perform one or more diagnostic tests to look for atherosclerosis in leg arteries and rule out other conditions. Our experts use special equipment and sophisticated techniques to confirm a diagnosis.
Advanced diagnostic testing may include:
At Henry Ford, our vascular doctors offer every available treatment for PAD. Your care team works closely with you to customize a treatment plan based on your symptoms, risk factors and test results.
The treatment goals for PAD are to:
When possible, our vascular specialists begin treatment with noninvasive therapies, which can include:
Small lifestyle changes can effectively relieve your symptoms. Our preventive specialists have years of experience helping people with PAD develop realistic goals that can improve the way they feel.
You can work with us one-on-one, or we can refer you to Henry Ford programs such as:
You have access to supervised exercise therapy (SET), approved and covered by Medicare. Research has shown that SET can help people with PAD walk farther after they complain of occasional leg pain (intermittent claudication).
Our 12-week SET program includes:
Medication can help relieve your symptoms and manage other health conditions that contribute to PAD. Depending on your specific needs, our team carefully selects medications such as:
If you have PAD, you may have a higher risk of developing chronic, nonhealing wounds on your legs and feet. The risk can be even higher if you also have diabetes.
Chronic wounds can become infected and lead to tissue death. In severe cases, this condition may require limb amputation.
Henry Ford offers comprehensive treatment at our Wound Care Centers across southeast and south-central Michigan. Learn more about our team and the services available at our Wound Care Centers.
If medications and other conservative treatments don’t control your symptoms, we offer the latest minimally invasive procedures to treat PAD.
Our board-certified specialists have extensive training and experience in these endovascular procedures, which go inside the artery to provide treatment. They only require small incisions, so most people can go home the same day. You heal faster after a minimally invasive procedure, for an easier recovery.
The endovascular procedures we offer for PAD include:
You may need surgery for severe blockages or blockages that worsen after receiving angioplasty and stenting. Our expert vascular surgeons perform open surgery to restore blood flow and reduce the risk of losing a limb to amputation. Learn more about vascular surgery at Henry Ford.
The vascular surgeries we offer include: