Peripheral Artery Disease Specialists

St. Louis Heart and Vascular -  - Cardiology

St. Louis Heart and Vascular

Bridgeton, St. Louis, Des Peres, St. Charles, MO, & Granite City, IL

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) can cause serious problems in your extremities, especially your legs, because they aren’t getting the blood supply they need. At St. Louis Heart and Vascular, the team of specialists has extensive experience helping their patients move freely again by addressing the underlying circulatory problem. If you’re having trouble with peripheral artery disease, call one of the six locations in St. Louis, Des Peres, St. Charles, and Bridgeton, Missouri, and Granite City, Illinois, to schedule a consultation.

Peripheral Artery Disease Q & A

What is peripheral artery disease?

As the name implies, peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which your extremities, and sometimes your stomach or head, aren’t getting the blood supply they need because of narrowed arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?

PAD typically affects your legs more than any other area, which makes sense given that the combination of distance and gravity make circulation more difficult in these areas.

The primary symptom of PAD is claudication, or pain in your legs or arms. This pain can feel like cramping, and it usually comes on with physical activity. The level of pain can vary widely, from mild to debilitating, depending upon the degree of the disease.

Other symptoms of PAD include:

  • Wounds that are slow to heal
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Cooler skin temperature
  • Discoloration in your extremities
  • Slowed hair and nail growth
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • A lack of a pulse in your legs

What makes PAD tricky is that some people feel no symptoms at all from the disease.

What causes peripheral artery disease?

The cause of PAD is narrowing in the peripheral arteries, or atherosclerosis, which leads to a buildup of fatty deposits in your blood. This condition typically develops over time and is brought on by the following risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Age
  • Heredity

There are less common cases where PAD is caused by an acute condition in the vessels in your extremities. The best way to find out for sure is to see one of the cardiovascular specialists at St. Louis Heart and Vascular.

How is peripheral artery disease treated?

Your cardiologist performs a thorough diagnostic exam, which includes checking the pulses in your arms and legs. An ultrasound or other imaging tests may be done to help your doctor identify where your arteries may be causing problems. Depending upon the degree to which your arteries are clogged, your doctor may turn to a number of treatments, including:

  • Medications to increase blood flow and prevent clots
  • Placing stents in your arteries
  • Bypass procedures

Your doctor starts out conservatively and becomes more aggressive if your PAD goes unresolved. It’s very important that you do your part by maintaining your health, including:

  • Losing weight, if that’s an issue
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting blood sugar and blood pressure under control

To get expert treatment for your peripheral artery disease, call St. Louis Heart and Vascular at one of their six locations.