Living With Pad Disease Management

Lifestyle changes are very important to peripheral artery disease (PAD) management. A healthy diet, weight management, exercise and avoidance of tobacco products can be as effective as medical or surgical PAD treatment. Controlling comorbid conditions and carefully monitoring health lowers the risk of serious PAD complications.

Comorbid Conditions and PAD Treatment

PAD disease management monitors for other health conditions that often accompany peripheral artery disease. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and kidney disease all worsen PAD symptoms. These diseases must be identified and controlled for effective PAD disease management.

Peripheral artery disease increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and transient ischemic attack, or “mini-strokes.” Regular medical checkups and PAD treatment help reduce the risk of these complications. People living with PAD should seek medical emergency care if they experience any of the following conditions:

  • Chest pain, pressure, fullness or discomfort
  • Cold sweats
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Mental confusion
  • Numbness of weakness down one side of the body
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm, face or leg
  • Severe headache without cause
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble walking
  • Unexplained nausea
  • Vision disturbances.

Blood clots can develop in narrowed arteries. Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot breaks off from an artery plaque and lodges in the lungs. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain. Chest pain may worsen when breathing deeply or coughing, and coughs may produce bloody sputum. Pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening and requires emergency treatment.

Critical Limb Ischemia

Peripheral artery disease reduces blood flow to affected limbs. Insufficient blood flow can cause a condition known as critical limb ischemia. Critical limb ischemia begins with sores, infections or injuries on the foot or leg that do not heal. Without treatment, tissue death, or gangrene, develops. In worst case scenarios amputation is necessary.

PAD disease management includes maintaining good foot hygiene and choosing comfortable, well-fitting shoes. People living with PAD should check their legs and feet for injuries or sores and report any slow-healing sore to doctors. Calluses, corns and bunions all require professional treatment.

Erectile Dysfunction

Men living with PAD may develop erectile dysfunction, depending on which arteries PAD affects. While many men feel uncomfortable talking about impotence with their doctors, PAD treatment can help reduce erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Resources

American Heart Association. (2011). Warning signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/911—Warnings-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_305346_SubHomePage.jsp

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Retrieved March 9, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/peripheral-arterial-disease/DS00537/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Pulmonary embolism. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pulmonary-embolism/DS00429/DSECTION=symptoms

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2008). What is peripheral artery disease? Retrieved March 9, 2011, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pad/pad_what.html

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2011). Peripheral artery disease – Legs. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000170.htm