You may have never heard of peripheral arterial disease, but it’s a relatively common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. PAD occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to the limbs (usually the legs). This build-up narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow, which can cause symptoms like pain, cramping, and fatigue.
If you think you may be suffering from PAD, the first step is to talk to your doctor. They will likely recommend an ultrasound and suggest one or more of the following treatments: angioplasty, atherectomy, or stenting. Let’s take a closer look at each of these treatment options.
Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure during which a small balloon is inflated inside the affected artery. This widening of the artery helps improve blood flow and relieve symptoms. Angioplasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and doesn’t require any special recovery time.
Atherectomy is another minimally invasive procedure used to treat PAD. During atherectomy, a rotating blade is used to remove the plaque buildup from the affected artery. This helps widen the artery and improve blood flow. Like angioplasty, atherectomy can be performed on an outpatient basis.
Stenting is a slightly more invasive treatment for PAD in which a small metal tube, called a stent, is placed in the affected artery to hold it open. Stents are usually made of stainless steel or titanium and are coated with medication to help prevent re-narrowing of the artery. The Recovery time for this procedure will depend on how many stents were placed but is typically between one and two weeks.
While peripheral arterial disease may not be a household name, it’s a relatively common condition affecting millions of people every year—especially those over the age of 60. If you think you may be suffering from PAD, talk to your doctor about possible treatment options like angioplasty, atherectomy, or stenting. With proper treatment, you can experience symptom relief and improved blood flow.