Treating Pad Vascular Disease Specialists

A variety of medical professionals make up a peripheral artery disease (PAD) treatment team. Some cases of PAD are treated successfully with lifestyle changes, while others require medication or vascular disease surgery. Your PAD treatment team reflects your personal needs.

PAD Treatment Teams

A family doctor or general practitioner is often a patient’s primary contact within a PAD treatment team. Patients may also use nurse practitioners who are trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions.

Whether you use a family doctor or nurse practitioner, he or she will likely refer you to a vascular medicine specialist to confirm a PAD diagnosis. A vascular medicine specialist is trained in diagnosing and treating PAD, atherosclerosis and other blood vessel diseases. In many cases vascular medicine specialists are also cardiologists, or heart specialists.

Vascular Disease Surgery

Treating PAD may require surgical correction of blocked arteries. In such cases a PAD treatment team includes a vascular surgeon who repairs damage caused by vascular disease.

An endovascular surgeon corrects vascular disease from inside the artery. Surgical tools are inserted into the arteries through catheters and threaded through the blood vessels to the blockage. The surgeon is assisted by an interventional radiologist who specializes in the use of ultrasound and similar imaging technologies.

Medical Support Staff and Peripheral Artery Disease

A number of support staff round out a PAD treatment team. Each team member brings unique skills to treating PAD, either by directly treating symptoms or reducing the risk of peripheral artery disease. Possible team members include:

  • Dieticians educate people on proper nutrition to reduce the risk of peripheral artery disease or prevent the disease from progressing.
  • Physical therapists help restore function to limbs after vascular disease surgery. Physical therapists also help people deal with PAD pain and, if necessary, adjust to prosthetics after amputation.
  • Physician’s assistants practice medicine under doctors’ supervision.
  • Podiatrists are specialists in the treatment of foot, ankle and leg disease. Podiatrists treat foot-related PAD complications and help patients prevent PAD complications that can lead to amputation.
  • Wound care nurses specialize in the treatment of wounds, including sores and ulcers causes by PAD. Wound care nurses educate patients on proper wound care to promote rapid healing.

In addition, treating PAD often involves quitting smoking. Support groups, counseling and hypnotherapy can all help patients quit smoking, greatly reducing the risk of peripheral artery disease complications.

Resources

Health Monitor Network. (2010). Peripheral artery disease: Your healthcare team. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://www.healthmonitor.com/heart-health/pad/peripheral-arterial-disease-your-healthcare-team

Massachusetts General Hospital. (2010). Peripheral artery disease program. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://www.massgeneral.org/vascularcenter/services/treatmentprograms.aspx?id=1094

University of California, San Diego Medical Center. Peripheral arterial disease. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/surgery/vascular/conditions/pad/