The peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when there is an accumulation of cholesterol plaque in the arteries traveling to your extremities. PAD can cause discomfort in your legs and feet, and limit your movement while walking.
A case of severe PAD can even lead to the loss of a limb. A doctor can detect this condition with a simple pulse test in your feet.
When the buildup of cholesterol blocks the arteries leading to the heart, this is called coronary artery disease (CAD).
Actually, PAD and CAD are associated with a single disease, atherosclerosis. Which is a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries throughout the body. In some cases, the presence of PAD indicates an increased risk of heart disease. This is why detection and knowledge of the connection between PAD and EAC is important.
Checking for pulses in the feet to detect peripheral arterial disease
The simplest test to detect PAD is to have your doctor check the pulses in your feet during a routine physical exam. In each foot, there are two pulses that a trained physician can easily detect. This test is done to determine if the blood flow to your feet is normal.
The next step in screening is the ankle-brachial index, in which blood pressure cuffs are worn on your arm and leg in combination with a Doppler probe. Which uses an ultrasound wave, to be able to hear the pulse in the foot.
With this technology, blood flow to the area can be better assessed. In most people, the blood pressure in the foot should be similar to the blood pressure in the arm. A drop of as little as 10 percent in that pressure can be an indication of peripheral arterial disease.
Generic screening tests could give false positives
You may have found offers for “comprehensive” exams / tests at community events, offered by for-profit companies or surgical / intervention groups. These tests often cover a wide range of conditions, from osteoporosis to coronary artery disease.
However, it would be best if you see your primary care doctor to find out if you should have a specific test, as he knows you best.
There is no evidence to confirm the benefits of generic tests and they can also have unintended consequences, including false positive results that put you at risk for other unnecessary and invasive procedures.
Signs that you may have a problem
People who suffer from constant leg pain or tire easily or who have trouble walking due to leg cramps should have a PAD evaluation. People who smoke or smoked, or anyone with a family history of PAD or symptoms of the disease, should also be screened.
If you don't have symptoms, you don't need any tests
Screening for PAD is totally unnecessary in a healthy, symptom-free person who is under the age of 60, has never smoked, and has no family history of atherosclerosis or heart disease.
In this case, detection can expose the patient to greater risk. This is because the tests can sometimes be incorrect and lead to much more invasive tests, which have their own inherent risks.
Peripheral arterial disease can affect the whole body
It is important to remember that atherosclerosis is not a localized process; it is a systemic disease that affects arteries throughout the body. To that end, if you have PAD, you have a higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Medications and lifestyle changes, including smoking cessation, are very important for patients who have any evidence of decreased blood flow to the legs and feet.
So, pay attention to the signs that your body gives and report immediately to your doctor.