Peripheral Artery Disease

Do you feel heaviness, aching or cramping in your feet, legs or buttocks when you walk or climb upstairs? If so, you may suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD), a common but serious vascular condition. The good news is that PAD is highly treatable. And the cardiologists and vascular surgeons at Valley Baptist Health System are here to help.

Comprehensive Heart and Vascular Care in Rio Grande Valley

It's important to care for your heart, but many forget the veins and arteries in their extremities. Sometimes cramping and leg pain are more than just signs of aging. People who smoke or have high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity are more prone to developing vascular diseases, such as peripheral artery disease.

At Valley Baptist Health System, we combine technology and quality care to perform various procedures to diagnose, manage and treat peripheral artery disease. Our team of experienced cardiologists, vascular surgeons and dedicated staff will diagnose and treat your condition with one goal: to help improve the quality of your life.

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral artery disease is the most common form of peripheral vascular disease. A blockage in the peripheral arteries prevents blood from flowing to other body parts. The term peripheral artery disease is often used interchangeably with peripheral vascular disease. 

The most common lower extremity peripheral artery disease occurs in the legs and feet. The blockage is caused by atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaque builds up in the arteries that block blood flow throughout the body, including in the heart, brain, arms, legs, pelvis and kidneys. Although symptoms can vary, the following are the most common peripheral artery disease symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Pain, aching, heaviness or cramping in the legs when walking or climbing stairs that goes away after rest (also called intermittent claudication)
  • Toenails and leg hair stop growing
  • One foot feels colder than the other
  • A foot or leg turns pale, discolored or blue
  • Leg weakness or numbness;
  • Feeling of pins and needles in the leg or foot
  • Pain in the leg and foot when at rest (also called critical limb ischemia)
  • Sores or wounds on the toes, feet or legs that may appear to have healed slowly or may not heal at all

Many people confuse PAD with arthritis because some symptoms of peripheral artery disease, including feelings of achiness, are similar. But while arthritis pain centers in the joints, such as the knees or hips, PAD pain is more general and felt in more areas of the body. There are several ways to treat PAD. Treatment options may include medication, angioplasty, surgery or lifestyle changes.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Peripheral Artery Disease?

Atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries, is the most common cause of peripheral artery disease. Blocked arteries prevent blood flow throughout the body, including in the heart, brain, arms, legs, pelvis and kidneys. However, some factors can also increase your chances of developing peripheral artery disease, such as:

  • Increasing age
  • Personal or family history of PAD, cardiovascular disease or stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes

The good news is that some PAD cases are treatable with lifestyle changes and medication. Let's help you understand your risks or explore treatment options if you already have PAD. Fill out our request referral form or call 855-720-7448, and we'll connect you to our dedicated staff to provide helpful information about our services and assist you in making an appointment.

How Is Peripheral Artery Disease Diagnosed?

PAD often goes undiagnosed because many people think of leg pain as a sign of aging or arthritis, while others with PAD have no symptoms. Doctors begin with a medical history and physical examination to make a peripheral artery disease diagnosis.

Your physical exam may include:

  • Ankle-brachial index- a painless exam that compares the blood pressure in your lower legs to the blood pressure in your arms
  • Duplex ultrasonography- a noninvasive test that produces images of the artery through sound waves and measures the blood flow in the artery to indicate the presence of blockage
  • Computed tomographic (CT) angiography- a noninvasive test that uses X-rays and a contrast agent (dye) to visualize the blood vessels in the arteries in your abdomen, pelvis and legs
  • Magnetic resonance angiography- a test that provides cross-sectional images like a CT without using X-rays
  • Angiography- a test that uses a contrast dye that is injected into the arteries and X-rays to show blood flow in the leg arteries

Remember, untreated PAD can lead to painful symptoms or complications, such as loss of a leg, coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack. If you have PAD or believe you are at risk, consult a healthcare professional to ensure early treatment.

Insurances Accepted and Payment Plan Options

At Valley Baptist Health System, we know that care is more than medicine. Caring for our patients is a passion and a priority.

When you come to us for help, we will provide you with all the information you need upfront, including financial obligations, to help you make important healthcare decisions. We've made it easier for you to make payment arrangements that fit your budget through out-of-pocket prices and procedures for your peace of mind.

If you're ready to begin your cardiovascular health journey with us, we work with various insurance providers and offer flexible payment plans for most treatments and procedures. Please contact your insurance carrier directly if you have specific questions about your covered services and benefits.;

If you have an upcoming procedure or have a surgery you’ve been putting off, our dedicated staff is ready to address your questions and help make financial arrangements. Please call 833-850-5053 or watch this short video to learn more about our extended payment plans and how we make healthcare more affordable. For questions about billing, payment plans, pricing information and estimates, please visit our patient financial resources page for more details.

Find a Heart and Vascular Doctor in Rio Grande Valley

Your heart and vascular health can't wait. The experienced cardiologists, vascular surgeons and allied medical staff at Valley Baptist Health System are here for you, always. We commit to providing comprehensive cardiovascular care combined with advanced technology and compassion. Please call 833-282-1447 or find a cardiologist or vascular surgeon here near your location for proper diagnosis and advice for available treatment options suited for your condition.

If you or someone you know has a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest signs, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Please don't delay care.

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