If you have been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease or PAD and have researched its potential consequences, you know that it is a serious condition that should be treated as soon as possible. If you visit a vascular specialist like Dr. Farrugia early in the disease, the options available to you may be much greater, one of which is a comprehensive lifestyle change. But how can lifestyle change be so effective against such a serious disease?
PAD is the ultimate result of a plaque buildup along the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the extremities. While PAD can occur in the arms, it is more likely to happen in the legs. When this blood is restricted, the structures of the muscles, nerves, and skin in the extremity can become damaged – either temporarily or permanently.
If lifestyle issues are the primary cause of PAD, shouldn’t correcting them be the front line in its treatment?
The short answer is yes. On this website and elsewhere, you will have seen that Dr. P preaches a healthy lifestyle, including improving diet and exercise. This effectively reduces the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Not only does this help avoid PAD, but it also significantly reduces the risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular disorders. Patients should begin moving around as part of this lifestyle change, starting with short walks. These walks should get longer over time, and eventually, patients should mix their cardiovascular training with strength training – lifting weights. At the same time, changing one’s diet is an effective way to avoid PAD and cardiovascular disease. Foods high in fat, sodium, and bad cholesterol should all be avoided. Alcohol and smoking should be eliminated.
Is That All I Need to Do?
Unfortunately, even with the specter of significant vascular disease, many patients cannot change their lifestyle significantly enough to make a difference. Further, the plaque built up along the arterial walls does not naturally eliminate itself – at least not quickly. These patients usually end up on medication to mask the symptoms and offer temporary relief. Of course, medication is not curative, and therefore if the patient stops or is not compliant with their medication, their PAD can worsen.
Getting Back to Naturally Reversing PAD
Having read all the above, you can imagine that very few people can naturally reverse their PAD. It’s simply difficult to change one’s lifestyle significantly enough to do so. Further, many patients believe they can go at it alone and without medical intervention. As such, they may delay their care and make the PAD both more debilitating and more difficult to treat. Sometimes, they wait to the point of no turning back, and a portion of the limb must be amputated. While this is an extreme circumstance, it happens too often.
What’s the Answer?
The simple answer is that improvements in lifestyle should be a part of everyone’s daily routine. Eating well and exercising are critical for longevity and prevents diseases from head to toe. However, if patients do begin to experience the signs and symptoms of PAD, they should not delay in visiting a knowledgeable and experienced vascular specialist such as Dr. Farrugia to begin a treatment plan.
It is also worth noting and understanding that Dr. Farrugia specializes in a minimally invasive, outpatient PAD treatment, known as angioplasty with stenting, that doesn’t require general anesthesia. The procedure is safe and effective and can immediately restore normal blood flow to the extremities.
For more information about PAD, how we treat it, and your treatment options, we encourage you to contact us. A consultation with Dr. Farrugia is the first step to understanding the severity of your condition and what treatment options are available.