What is Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a problem with blood flow in the arteries of the legs and arms. Arteries carry blood to the muscles. When you have diseased arteries, they become narrow or blocked. The most c ommon complaint of people with PAD is claudication. If you notice pain in you r legs after you walk it may be claudication pain due to PAD, ask your doctor about it.
What is Claudication pain?
Claudication is pain in the calf or thigh muscle th at occurs after you have walked a certain distance. The pain stops after you rest for a while. Each time the pain occurs, it takes about the same amount of time for the pain to go away aft er you stop walking. Claudication occurs because not enough blood is flo wing to a muscle due to disease of the blood vessels supplyin g blood to the area i.e. PAD. The artery that normally supplie s blood to the muscle gets narrow and less blood can flow thro ugh the artery. When resting, enough blood flows to the mus cle to meet the needs of the muscle. To check for claudica tion your doctor will check the pulses in the arteries in you r legs. He or she may use a stethoscope to listen to the sound of your blood going through your arteries. Your doctor may hear a noise, called a bruit, which may be a warning to yo ur doctor that there is a narrow area in the artery.
What tests should be done for diagnosing PAD?
Your doctor may order a test to check the blood flo w in your leg. This test is often performed in a hospital lab . The test for checking the blood flow in your legs is called a Doppler study and is done with an instrument. The doctor may also assess the blood pressure in the arms or l egs and compare them. A drop in the blood pressure in your leg may indicate narr owing of an artery. Another test is Angiography. This is an x-ray taken after a radio-opaque dye is injected into an artery. The dye study may show nar rowing in an artery and provides a "map" of the blood flow. People with PAD may also have disease of the blood vessels of the heart, brain and elsewhere and be prone to have heart attack or stro ke. They should be investigated for these.