CARDIOLOGY | PREVENTIVE
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral Vascular Disease Screening is a preventative measure for cardiovascular disease. Peripheral vascular disease is commonly called peripheral artery disease. The arteries that supply blood to the legs are considered peripheral arteries. Two common conditions cause peripheral artery disease. When these issues are not fixed, blood flow to the legs is blocked. A decrease in blood flow to the legs is serious. The pain is a major issue that can leave you unable to walk. Knowing your symptoms can help you get peripheral vascular disease screening before it is too late. Once the tissues in the legs begin to die, there is nothing left for doctors to do.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Have you ever experienced leg pain? I am sure you have. The majority of people in the world have had some leg pain. Do you feel leg pain daily that can sometimes prevent you from walking? Then you may have peripheral vascular disease. Peripheral vascular disease is poor circulation in the legs. Think about wrapping a rubber band around your wrist. If you leave it on too long, your hand gets numb, and you may have a lot of pain. The pain in your hand is a result of a lack of blood flow; this is exactly what is happening in the legs, except without the rubber band. The arteries that supply the legs with blood can become blocked. Two common things that block the arteries are atherosclerosis, or hardening of the artery, and stenosis, which is the clogging of the artery that causes it to become narrow. Blood cannot flow as freely and quickly when the arteries have these problems. Sometimes one vein is blocked and at other times multiple veins are blocked. The pain is sometimes unbearable. Eventually, the tissues begin to die because of a lack of blood supply.
There are multiple symptoms you will experience when it comes to peripheral artery disease. The first symptom is leg pain. The pain increases when you are moving around, especially when walking and exercise. This is a result of the need for more blood during work. When you are moving around the heart pumps harder to make sure the whole body gets the proper amount of blood. When the arteries in the legs are blocked, the tissues become oxygen deprived. At rest, you typically feel a lot better. You do not need as much blood in the legs when they are not moving. You may also notice changes in the skin. The skin may feel cold. The lack of blood can cause hair loss as well. For women, this is probably not a bad thing. Besides that, you become susceptible to ulcers, and you can have achiness and burning sensations.
The Screening Process
Peripheral artery screening is a non-invasive procedure. There is no need for any incisions; therefore, recovery time is not needed. The first step in the procedure is taking off your shoes and socks. Pressure cuffs are put on your arms as well as your ankles. A device similar to an ultrasound will measure systolic blood pressure. Cuffs are put on the arms and ankles as a way to assess if there is a difference in blood pressure in the lower limbs and upper limbs. If the systolic blood pressure is the same, then you are probably clear of any peripheral artery problems. If the pressure is too low in both, it could mean you have clogged arteries in both the peripheral arteries as well as arteries in the upper area of the body. Once that is done, you are free to go. There are times where a complete lipid panel is done in conjunction with the screening. If the arteries are clogged, it is typically primarily due to cholesterol buildup. In a lipid panel, the doctor does a finger prick and takes some blood. The blood is tested, and the doctor gets your HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels.
Candidates for Peripheral Artery Screening
There are several risk factors for Peripheral artery disease. These risk factors include:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Kidney Disease
If you suffer from any of these things you should have a peripheral artery screening yearly. With every physical, you need to be screened for peripheral artery disease. Age also plays a role. Most people around the age of 65 begin to experience changes in their arteries. It is good to get screened even if you do not have other risk factors. If there is a family history of peripheral artery disease, you may also want to look at being screened. It is always good to take preventative measures even if it seems pointless.
Peripheral artery disease screening helps to not only prevent peripheral artery disease but the damage that may come with it. Getting an early diagnosis will help you get the treatment you need. As stated earlier, if you ignore your symptoms and fail to get treatment, you can lose the ability to use your legs as a result of dead tissue. It is important to do the screening you to do to prevent life-threatening problems.
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