Peripheral Arterial Disease – Screening & Treatment

Submitted by Lewis Siegel, MD, Augusta Health Cardiology

One of the most feared and dangerous vascular conditions is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). PAD is a common comdition related to reduced blood flow to one of more extremities. Risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia

PAD affects 15% of the adult population older than 50. There are 8.5 million patients with PAD in the US and 200 million worldwide.

Progressive PAD can result in:

  • Limited exercise capacity (Claudication)
  • Compromised tissue (Ischemia)
  • Gangrene requiring amputation

A patient with PAD also has significant risk of other serious vascular abnormalities such as coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke (CVA), or kidney arterial insufficiency (CRF). Twenty percent (20%) of patients with PAD will suffer a major vascular event in their lifetime. ten year death rate is doubled (2x) in patients with PAD.

Therefore, early detection and treatment of PAD is essential. Initial evaluation involves examination of pulse in neck, arms, and legs. Ankle / Brachial Index (ABI), sometimes with ultrasound, provides a measure of arterial blood flow to the legs. It is simple and safe. There are no needle sticks or contrast necessary. ABI is readily available at Augusta Health’s Cardiovascular laboratory, done in 30 minutes as an outpatient. More sophisticated study may be necessary using computerized tomography (CTA) or peripheral arterial angiography.

The initial treatment for PAD without symptoms involves controlling risk factors and eliminating smoking of all kinds. An exercise program can improve exercise capacity in patients with mild disease. If PAD is severe, vascular intervention may be necessary.

At Augusta Health we provide the latest diagnostic and treatment services, utilizing state of the art equipment. For further information, please contact the Augusta Health Cardiovascular Services at (540) 332-4127 or Augusta Health Cardiology at (540) 245-7080.

In summary:

  • Get screened
  • Get treated
  • Prevent limb loss

Links to Algorithms:

  1. Algorithm for Vascular Testing in PAD
  2. Algorithm for Management of Claudication