Leg pain that won’t go away, shortness of breath that’s difficult to explain—we often try to tackle the symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PDA) independently, without realizing they are a byproduct of an issue with our vascular health. This trend has a lot to do with limited access to vascular education resources.
Many patients believe discomfort is just a natural part of aging. Their providers tell them that seemingly-random limb pains can happen and that physical exertion becomes harder for everyone. However, these issues can be a sign of more serious arterial health concerns and, if left untreated, can worsen. Many medical providers simply don’t have the resources or training to identify PAD before it becomes a serious health concern.
As a result, most patients coming into our office for the first time are usually only doing so because they’ve exhausted the rest of their care options. That’s why the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center team decided we wanted to take some time and share everything you need to know about when to pursue peripheral artery disease care in Rogers.
Your peripheral artery disease care experts
You know Dr. Haney and the incredible team at the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center for our work as premier vein experts in Rogers. However, our concierge-level care services have expanded! We’re now your one-stop shop for all things vascular health (excluding the heart). We can now provide you with world-class vein & artery care. And, of course, world-class peripheral artery disease care in Rogers.
Dr. Stout, the newest member of our family, is a significant contributor to this service expansion. He is a celebrated vascular surgeon who has brought his arterial expertise to the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center team. He is a leading expert in diagnosing, treating, and managing diseases and conditions affecting arteries and veins. It’s his expertise that has allowed us to become the comprehensive vascular care provider that Rogers, Bentonville, Fayetteville, and the rest of our Northwest Arkansas community deserve.
Not just care providers, it’s our goal to also offer our community thorough vascular wellness education. We want to make sure our patients, friends, and neighbors are as informed as possible when making decisions about their vein & artery health. This blog will provide a breakdown of peripheral artery disease, notable risk factors for the disease, and the treatment options available in Rogers.
What is peripheral artery disease?
Over 8 million Americans struggle with peripheral artery disease, and PAD is the leading cause of amputations today. Peripheral artery disease begins with the same process that fuels the development of all arterial diseases: atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the first stage of all other arterial diseases. As plaque builds up within an artery, it leads to the progressive thickening of the artery’s lining. This thickening process slowly narrows the artery’s interior, blocking the flow of blood and reducing blood circulation around the body to specific organs or regions of the body. This process, atherosclerotic occlusive vascular disease, better known as atherosclerosis, is most accurately described as hardening of the arteries.
Like all arterial diseases, PAD develops from atherosclerosis and worsens with time. The disease most notably affects your extremities, typically your legs and feet. If not treated, the artery can become entirely blocked by this hardening or through a blood clot.
If this occurs, the tissue below the blockage can become permanently damaged and may die. Tissue death like this is known as gangrene.
This is what makes PAD such a serious health issue. It’s not just uncomfortable; it’s life-threatening. In fact, PAD is one of the leading causes of amputation and is a common indicator that your overall health is not good. After all, the body’s circulatory system is interconnected. If you have atherosclerosis in your legs, it is likely present in other parts of your body as well. This puts you at increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.
PAD Risk Factors
Peripheral artery disease results from a progressive thickening of an artery’s lining caused by plaque buildup. This narrows or blocks blood flow, reducing blood circulation to specific organs and bodily extremities. Your legs and hips are the most affected.
This issue is exacerbated by a variety of factors. The list of risk factors include:
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- High blood pressure
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Family history
- Physical Inactivity
- High saturated fat diet
Common Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease
Characterized by the weakening or obstruction of blood flow within your legs, PAD causes most patients to experience cramping pain in the joints or muscles of their legs and hips. This is due to the obstruction of blood flow to active regions of your body. Naturally, the buildup of fluid, pressure, and/or lack of oxygenation causes pain and lingering discomfort.
PAD also has other identifiable symptoms you can use to gauge your arterial health. These symptoms include:
- Decreased lower leg temperature
- Difficulty ambulating or pain while walking
- Toe or foot wounds that will not heal or heal very slowly
- The change of your skin color on your legs to purple or blue
- Thin, shiny skin
- Hair loss on your legs
What to expect from peripheral artery disease care in Rogers
Now, let’s take a deep breath. In and out.
We know this might sound frightening and that any major health issue can be a point of stress. Our goal is never to scare you. We just want to make sure you’re fully informed. The Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center believes that it’s important our patients have all the information they need to make informed decisions about their health and circulatory wellbeing.
We believe that when it comes to making decisions about your health, it’s crucial to have all the facts. Unfortunately, not all of those facts are pleasant. Thankfully, though, there is good news.
PAD, though not curable, is entirely treatable. Even more, it’s manageable when detected early. It’s important to pay attention to your wellbeing and be aware if you have any risk factors for PAD or are experiencing any symptoms. However, it’s important not to jump to conclusions and listen to your body. The odd ache or pain isn’t unnatural and can happen to anyone. However, frequent pain, discomfort, or previously mentioned symptoms warrant further attention.
There’s a great deal you can do to improve your arterial health and even prevent PAD. Potentially even avoiding the need for peripheral artery disease care in Rogers entirely! Best of all, it is doable without involving a vascular specialist. After all, conservative treatments and preventative care are hugely important in mitigating circulatory weakness and peripheral arterial disease.
Our advice is simple: take care of your body.
Though some patients don’t have a say in the matter due to underlying issues, much of the stress we place upon our circulatory system is, with attention, easily fixed.
If you’re looking for more specific steps you can take to improve your artery health, here are a few activities you can do to improve arterial health and overall circulation:
- Avoid Smoking. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your vascular system, so our first piece of advice is to stop smoking immediately. Smoking contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries, meaning it’s a major risk factor for developing arterial disease and a decrease in quality of life.
- Exercise. Exercising is a great way to improve vascular health, as it keeps blood flowing and prevents further plaque buildup. Walking and cardiovascular exercise are incredibly beneficial, but anything that elevates your heart rate is good. You should make a point of exercising once a day or as much as is feasible.
- Eat Healthier. Diet is a major contributing factor to arterial disease. Foods high in cholesterol are a major cause of plaque buildup and increased blood pressure, so eating healthy is important in improving your health: more fruits and vegetables, less red meat, and dairy. You should also make sure to eat smaller portions in individual sittings to reduce stress on your circulatory system.
- Lose Weight. This item is the most difficult. Being overweight can significantly strain your circulatory system, as it requires more work to move blood around your body. Losing weight is vital to improving overall vascular health.
- Monitor Your Health. Routine health screenings and physicals are critical to maintaining your overall physical health but can be especially useful for identifying and mitigating arterial disease. Make sure to regularly check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels!
Note: It’s important to remember that none of these behaviors should replace consulting a healthcare provider or vascular specialist if you are worried about your vascular health.
Though at-home conservative care and behavioral adjustments are essential to your vascular health, it’s smart to consult specialists. After all, conservative care can’t erase pre-existing plaque, simply prevent further unhealthy buildup and mitigate the potential worsening of symptoms. That’s why there’s so much value in professional peripheral artery disease care in Rogers.
Consulting vascular professionals can help you to set informed, long-term treatment plans and medication regimens to mitigate the issue. This style of conservative care isn’t available purely through at-home lifestyle changes or behavioral adjustments.
Medications like statins are vital for lowering cholesterol levels, a key factor in arterial disease, and require a prescription from a doctor or vascular surgeon.
Additionally, it’s worth discussing surgical or interventional care for improving your vascular health. These care alternatives are only available when consulting a vascular professional equipped with the resources to provide you with comprehensive care.
Severe peripheral artery disease care
If your PAD is severe, though, you’re not out of options. In fact, helping people avoid amputation is what Dr. Stout does best. The process of working with a professional in this way, when you are dealing with severe peripheral artery disease and are in desperate need of care to prevent limb loss or serious health complications, is known as Limb Salvage.
A personal passion of Dr. Stout, not unlike the preventative care we mentioned above, is composed of conservative care opportunities and surgical care interventions. By this stage in their journey, many patients are dealing with gangrene, infection due to diabetes, open sores, and black toes. For many of them, their prognosis is dire. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have options. Limb salvage is not a single procedure or process but a multi-faceted approach to vascular care.
The first step is frequently making health-conscious changes to the patient’s diet, activity levels, and medications. The introduction of antibiotics and statins, regular exercise if possible, and healthier foods can do wonders to improve the health of the patient and even mitigate factors resulting in the need for amputation. Many people with PAD have poor diets and minimal opportunity for regular exercise. Providing them the nutrients and physical resources necessary to keep their body in fight shape can make it easier to combat the disease’s more serious symptoms.
As Dr. Stout explains: “without necessary dietary resources, the body can’t heal and prevent further degradation.” While this may seem like an obvious solution, it’s not that simple. This is often because attention is usually focused on symptom-specific relief, not comprehensive care when treating patients with PAD.
In addition to conservative care, surgical care is also a vital part of this process. Angioplasty and Stenting, an Atherectomy, minimal digit removal—these techniques, in addition to advances in the field, have made late-stage treatment not only possible but viable for the prevention of foot and/or leg amputation. Many of these procedures take hours but allow blood flow to bypass blocked arteries or break down the plaque to clear blood vessels. New procedures even allow doctors to create new blood vessels where none existed prior. All of these treatments can prove an effective means to prevent the need for amputation.
The Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center understands how frightening arterial disease can be. Still, it’s important to know that even when things look dire, there’s always an opportunity for care. Many patients simply otherwise don’t know they have these care options available to them. But that’s why we, and other passionate organizations, are here. You don’t need to resign yourself to amputation. We can help.
Take an active role in your vascular health today!
If you need support with peripheral artery disease care in Rogers, turn to the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center. There’s no one better at providing the comprehensive vascular care you need to improve your health and get back on your feet. Our experience and constantly expanding suite of care options enable us to guide you toward lasting wellness solutions.
We are a premier practice in Northwest Arkansas for all the highest-quality vein and artery treatments available. Dr. Haney, Dr. Stout, and the expert staff have over 75 years of combined experience taking care of patients’ vascular wellbeing. Helping people is what we do, and it is our mission to provide the people of Northwestern Arkansas and beyond with the absolute best care possible.
You can count on the Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center to provide exceptional peripheral artery disease care results for our patients each and every time.
So, if you’re at risk for peripheral artery disease or are interested in regular screening just to be safe, check out our Instant Vein & Artery Screening Quiz or schedule a consultation!