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Diagnosing Peripheral Artery Disease

Diagnosing Peripheral Artery Disease

Blockages in blood vessels are normally thought to occur only in the major coronary arteries. However, the plaque that builds up and causes blockages can cause problems in any blood vessel. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the name for when this buildup occurs and narrows the peripheral arteries ( arteries that supply blood to the legs, abdominal aorta, etc.). 

PAD is a serious condition that can develop at first without any symptoms. With over 6.5 million adults in the US suffering from PAD, it’s a condition about which you should be aware. It’s so serious that it actually increases your risk of dying from a heart attack by three times. 

At the Cardiovascular Institute of America, with locations in Citrus Park and Lutz in Tampa, Florida, our talented cardiovascular disease specialist, Muthu Velusamy, MD, FACC, ABVM, can diagnose and treat peripheral artery disease to help you live a long and healthy life. 

Learn more here about PAD and why it’s important to get a diagnosis and treatment plan in place as quickly as possible. 

An overview of peripheral artery disease

Peripheral arteries are vital to transport oxygenated blood from your heart throughout your body. When there’s too much cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, it can stick to the walls of your arteries, hardening and turning to plaque. This buildup of plaque is what causes PAD. 

With PAD, blood must flow through a constricted space caused by the buildup of plaque. This can lead to severe complications that can include a stroke, heart attack, or other forms of heart disease. 

Plus, this constriction causes difficulty in getting blood to your extremities, leading to problems in movement, ulcers, and battling infections. This, in turn, raises the risk of gangrene and losing limbs to amputation.  

Your risks for developing PAD increase with: 

Signs and symptoms of PAD

The buildup of plaque in your extremity arteries determines the severity of your PAD. At first, you may have no symptoms, or a few mild ones that can be easily overlooked. PAD symptoms can often be attributed to other health issues, or as signs of stress or overwork. 

Common PAD symptoms can include: 

Since peripheral artery disease typically affects circulation farthest from your heart, this means most symptoms will occur in your lower body, like the legs and feet. Men with PAD may also experience erectile dysfunction (ED). 

Diagnosing peripheral artery disease 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or you’re aged 70 or older, you need to schedule a screening with Dr. Velusamy as soon as possible. Those with a history of diabetes, heart disease, or tobacco use should schedule a screening by age 50. 

Dr. Velusamy performs a simple physical exam, looking for obvious signs of circulatory problems. He also performs ultrasound tests and blood pressure readings from different extremities to look for any changes. Our PAD screenings are noninvasive, painless, and could possibly save your life. 

If you show signs of PAD, Dr. Velusamy develops a customized treatment plan that can include lifestyle changes, dietary changes, medication, or other elements. If you suspect circulatory problems are developing, or if you have any of the above symptoms, schedule a consultation and screening with Dr. Velusamy at any of our locations. 

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