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Also known as peripheral arterial disease, PAD is a condition that can occur when the arteries become hardened or blocked. Plaque buildup within the arteries can restrict healthy blood flow and lead to serious problems such as blood clots. The signs of PAD can range from leg pain to tingling in the feet and even coldness in an affected extremity. If left unaddressed, PAD may eventually lead to heart attack, stroke or limb loss. Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of PAD. And discover how Midwest Cardiovascular Institute helps patients living with this condition.

What Is PAD and What Are Its Symptoms?

One of the most common causes of PAD is atherosclerosis, which occurs with the buildup of plaque in the arteries. As the plaque hardens, it can reduce the flow of oxygenated blood to the tissues, increasing the risk of a medical emergency such as myocardial infarction or stroke. In addition, by prohibiting the amount of oxygen-rich blood traveling to the tissues, it can also result in the death of the tissue and potential limb loss and amputation.

There are several symptoms associated with peripheral arterial disease. Unfortunately, because many of the signs are initially mild in discomfort, they can be easy to ignore. One of the symptoms of PAD is leg pain that does not go away after exercise has stopped. This can manifest as calf pain or cramping when walking that suddenly clears up with rest. Another PAD symptom includes a feeling of pins and needles at the bottom of the foot. Thankfully, this improves with walking. In addition, feeling coldness in the lower leg and foot can be another sign of PAD. And, because the tissues aren’t receiving enough oxygen, slowed toenail and hair growth can occur as well. Ultimately, in serious cases, ulcers and open wounds may appear at the bottom of the foot, with no signs of healing.

Several techniques can be utilized to diagnose PAD. An ankle-brachial index, also known as an ABI, can also be used to measure blood pressure in the ankle and compare it to blood pressure in the arm. Also, an ultrasound can be utilized to observe blood flow in different arterial areas, locating potential issues. These may lead to angiography, a procedure in which contrast dye is injected into blood vessels to monitor blood flow and determine potential blockages.

How Is PAD Treated?

Once a patient is diagnosed with PAD, a cardiologist can review the patient’s condition to determine the most effective treatment. For extreme blockages in the limbs, also known as critical limb ischemia, less-invasive options may include stents, angioplasty, laser atherectomy, balloons, and several other effective procedures. 

Have You Experienced Leg Pain or Other PAD Symptoms?

If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms associated with PAD, schedule an appointment with a physician at Midwest Cardiovascular Institute to see if you’re at risk. This condition gets worse if left untreated, so it is important not to delay care. Our trained specialists can work with you to diagnose your condition and help you find effective treatment.

Did you know that cardiology utilizes the power of ultrasound waves to visually monitor heart health? Ultrasound technology is an essential method for catching blood flow irregularities; organ changes; blood clots; and damage in the heart, veins, and other vital organs. Using ultrasound waves (or sonography) and a transducer, a sonographer can see within the patient’s body without painful, invasive means. These images allow your specialist to study the arteries and determine any health concerns. Here are the six types of ultrasound treatments we use at Midwest Cardiovascular Institute and how they can benefit our patients.

1. Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound

The aorta transports blood from the heart throughout the rest of your body. High blood pressure, hardened arteries, trauma, and other issues can cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This occurs when the aorta becomes enlarged, leading to deep pain in the back or abdomen. An abdominal aorta ultrasound detects aneurysms and blockages in the aorta, near the diaphragm. Your doctor will then determine the best ways to prevent your aneurysm from rupturing. And, depending on the aneurysm’s size, they may recommend surgery.

2. Arterial Ultrasound

Using ultrasound imaging, a sonographer views the arteries in your arms and legs. They will observe the speed of blood flow and search for any blockages in your arteries. Arterial ultrasounds can also identify areas where the arteries are narrowing. If your doctor notices blood clots or damage in your veins, he can assess your condition and determine the best methods of treatment to prevent further damage or health risks.

3. Carotid Ultrasound

Your carotid arteries are located on the sides of your head and neck. These pump blood to your brain. When these arteries become blocked with plaque, patients develop carotid artery disease. This leaves them at greater risk of suffering a stroke. This may occur as a smaller scale stroke called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Or, a blocked blood vessel may prevent blood flow to the brain, leading to an ischemic stroke. With a carotid duplex ultrasound, your specialist can see blockages in these arteries and then quickly determine a plan of treatment.

4. Echocardiogram 

With the use of ultrasound waves, cardiologists can view a picture of the patient’s heart. This helps uncover any structural abnormalities or irregularities in its beating pattern. While the size of one’s heart often correlates with the size of their body, some differentiation in size can occur. For example, an enlarged or thickened heart can indicate hypertrophy. Thanks to this ultrasound imaging, cardiologists can more quickly identify areas of damage.

5. Renal Artery Ultrasound

The renal arteries supply blood and oxygen from the aorta to the kidneys. When this flow is blocked or constricted, the kidneys are unable to receive the necessary nutrients for healthy function. A renal artery ultrasound uses Doppler technology to see through various thicknesses of tissue. This cardiovascular ultrasound allows your physician to notice any signs of renal artery stenosis, or obstruction of the kidneys that prevents proper waste elimination. Or if the renal artery is narrow, the patient is at higher risk of kidney failure or high blood pressure. With detailed imaging, patients can determine the right level of preventative measures or medical intervention needed to protect their kidney health.

6. What is a Venous Ultrasound

In cardiology, this form of ultrasound is used to view how easily blood flows through the veins. Your sonographer will observe any signs of blood clots as well as the direction of blood flow. This is especially effective for diagnosing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and establishing preventative measures against pulmonary embolism. For patients with varicose veins, a venous ultrasound can help distinguish damaged valves. Or if a patient needs a catheter placed into a vein, this can help to guide the needle. 

Schedule an Appointment for a Cardiology Ultrasound Today!

Cardiology uses many forms of advanced technology for patient care, including ultrasound for cardiovascular diagnostic testing. At Midwest Cardiovascular Institute, our physicians are dedicated to providing you with the highest-quality care. And with multiple clinic locations, you can find the closest and most convenient services for your needs. Contact your closest clinic or request an appointment online. Let us help you promote greater heart health, prevent damage and illness, and learn more about how you can live a healthy lifestyle!

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