Older adults who experience leg cramping or heaviness when walking short distances may think it’s a normal part of aging, but these symptoms can signal a serious medical condition called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), said Dr. R. Donald Doherty, Jr., a board certified and fellowship trained interventional radiologist with Virginia Interventional and Vascular Associates (VIVA) in Fredericksburg.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) causes blockages in the legs or arms. If untreated, it significantly increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes and amputations.
PAD Symptoms Can Include:
Burning or aching in feet or toes while resting
Painful leg cramping, especially while walking
Numbness, weakness, or heaviness in the limbs
A patch of skin on legs or feet that is cool to the touch
Sores on feet in diabetics
Loss of hair on legs or feet
Chronic leg or arm sores that do not heal
“Adults of all ages should contact their physicians if they experience symptoms of PAD, but people who smoke, those with diabetes, and anyone over age 50 should pay particular attention,” Doherty said. “It is important to start treating PAD before it progresses to an even more dangerous condition, called critical limb ischemia (CLI).” CLI is a severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities, which markedly reduces blood-flow.
Painless tests for diagnosing PAD include the ankle-brachial index (ABI) and CT scans. Physicians may also use MR angiograms or catheter angiograms.
“Treatments vary depending upon the patient’s condition,” Doherty said. “Front-line treatments include surgical bypass, angioplasty and stenting, but we also have newer procedures that are minimally invasive, including laser atherectomy, and rotational atherectomy.”
VIVA is the interventional radiology and vascular surgery practice of Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg. The office is located at 10401 Spotsylvania Ave., Suite 203 in Fredericksburg.
VIVA is helping raise awareness about symptoms, treatments and prevention as part of the national Love Your Limbs™ campaign, sponsored by Bard Peripheral Vascular.
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