If you experience leg pain while walking or exercising, you may have peripheral vascular disease (or PVD). If it affects only your arteries, then you have peripheral artery disease (or PAD). Either disease may present with no symptoms, which is the scariest scenario. Both PVD and PAD are very common blood vessel diseases, and if you have either one, your extremities don’t receive enough blood. The New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center has some of the best cardiologists in New York City. They can diagnose and treat this and other heart conditions.
Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. If you have peripheral artery disease, you have a disorder that causes a buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries, narrowing them and restricting the blood flow to your legs and abdomen. Eventually, a blood clot forms and no further blood can flow through that area. Blood clots in other parts of your body that break loose can cause a heart attack or stroke.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than eight million Americans have peripheral artery disease or PAD. As many as 12 to 20 percent of those over the age of 60 are affected by this disorder. So leg pain isn’t something to ignore. When you visit your doctor at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, make sure to mention even the slightest discomfort in your legs. It’s not a normal part of aging.
The Varied Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease
One of the hallmark symptoms of PAD is muscle pain and cramping in your legs while walking that usually disappears when you rest. This is known as claudication. The intensity of the pain can vary from just slightly uncomfortable to so painful that it stops you in your tracks. The location of the pain depends on where the clot has formed. The most common location is in your calf, which is why it hurts when you walk.
Besides leg pain and muscle cramping, other signs of peripheral artery disease include:
- Numbness or weakness in your legs
- Coldness in your legs or feet
- Change in the color of your legs
- Sores that won’t heal on your feet, legs or toes
- Weak pulse or even no pulse in your legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Causes and Risk Factors for Blood Vessel Diseases
Blood vessel diseases — including peripheral vascular disease (or PVD), peripheral artery disease and coronary artery disease — are often caused by atherosclerosis. This is a condition in which fatty deposits known as plaque build up in the wall of your blood vessels, reducing the blood flow. While PAD affects the arteries carrying blood away from your heart, coronary artery disease involves the arteries carrying blood to your heart.
All blood vessel diseases also may be caused by an injury to your limbs, blood vessel inflammation or radiation exposure. In addition to your age, other factors that increase your risk of developing a blood vessel disease include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Family history of heart disease or vascular problems
Complications of Blood Vessel Disease
When plaque builds up in your blood vessels, you’re at risk of developing dangerous complications. Fat deposits affecting arteries throughout your body can continue to build up and eventually cause a stroke or heart attack. If you have any risk factors at all, even if you don’t have any PAD or PVD symptoms, it’s best to get regular checkups to prevent the fat buildup.
Open sores may also point to peripheral artery disease or peripheral vascular disease. If your sores don’t heal properly and in due time, it can lead to a condition called critical limb ischemia. If this condition develops from an infected wound, it can lead to tissue death and possibly amputation of the affected limb.
Diagnosing Peripheral Artery Disease
When your NYC cardiology specialist believes you have a blood vessel disease, several different tests are in order. You may undergo:
- Carotid Doppler, which is an imaging test that uses ultrasound to examine the carotid artery for signs of blockages or narrowing. It’s a painless test that’s performed right in the doctor’s office. You learn the results right away.
Blood tests may be helpful because they can indicate your cholesterol levels and check for diabetes and your risk of developing PAD or PVD. A stress test evaluates the blood flow through your heart and provides readings to capture the severity of narrowed arteries during activity. This is another pain-free test that heart doctors perform to diagnose a wide range of heart and blood vessel conditions.
Treatment of Blood Vessel Diseases
Treatment of blood vessel disease aims to manage any pain you’re experiencing and stop the progression of atherosclerosis. Your Manhattan cardiologist encourages you to quit smoking and adopt healthy lifestyle choices such as eating fewer fatty foods and less salt. Regular exercise is another step you can take to ward off PAD or PVD.
Medication may be prescribed to control your pain and lower your blood pressure or cholesterol. In some cases, surgery may be required. Contact the best cardiologist in NYC to evaluate your leg pain or other signs of heart problems. Catch the disease early and relieve your symptoms to prevent possible complications.
If you have any questions for the best in class Manhattan cardiologist, top peripheral vascular disease specialist or would like to schedule a consultation or appointment please feel free to contact Dr. Steven Reisman of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center and indicate which Manhattan office (Upper East Side, Midtown Manhattan, or Wall Street / Financial District) you would like to see the cardiologist for the blood vessel disease treatment consultation.