Learn About How Balloon Angioplasty, Atherectomy and Stenting Can Help Treat PAD
Did you know that minimally invasive balloon angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting can restore adequate blood flow to your legs and stop the calf pain, ulcers, and other complications associated with peripheral artery disease (PAD)? Read on to learn more.
Like the arteries carrying blood to your heart and brain, the vessels that supply blood to your arms and legs (peripheral arteries) can become clogged with fatty deposits on the inner walls (plaque).
Balloon angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting are minimally invasive procedures that may be used to open narrowed arteries and restore adequate blood flow to the areas affected by PAD.
Ali Golshan, MD, is a top-rated vascular specialist and with a busy practice in the Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, California — Beach Wellness MD. Dr. Golshan is well-known for his expertise in treating peripheral artery disease (PAD). He’s happy to provide information about how balloon angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting are used to treat PAD.
Understanding peripheral artery disease
PAD affects the arteries outside of your heart and head. Most common in the arteries supplying blood to the legs, PAD can also cause problems in the arms and abdomen. Symptoms are typically gradual in onset and increase as the blockage worsens.
PAD symptoms affecting the legs may include:
- Loss of sensation, numbness in the affected extremity
- Cramping muscle pain that can worsen with activity
- Slow or non-healing sores on the feet and lower legs
- Lack of hair growth on the legs
The discomfort related to PAD occurs in muscles and not joints. You may develop symptoms in one or both hips, thighs, and/or calves.
As the affected artery narrows, blood flow decreases, and tissue damage occurs that may lead to ulcers and even amputation.
The underlying causes of PAD are the same as those linked to coronary artery disease (CAD) and both fit under the umbrella of atherosclerosis. Thus, if you have one, your specialist may suspect the other is at play as well.
These risk factors include:
- high cholesterol
- renal failure
What is balloon angioplasty for PAD?
Balloon angioplasty for PAD is a nonsurgical, minimally invasive treatment that’s used to open narrowed or blocked peripheral arteries.
A tiny needle is inserted into your artery, generally in your hip area, and a flexible tube (catheter) is inserted through the needle into the artery.
Using specialized X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy) we cross the blocked artery.. Then angioplasty is performed, a balloon is inflated, opening the blocked artery and allowing blood to flow normally again. If required, stenting also takes place at this time.
What is stenting?
Stenting is often recommended to help hold a weakened artery open. A stent is made from wire mesh that’s tube-shaped and open on both ends. Stents reinforce blood vessel walls at an area of previous blockage.
You can expect to remain under medical observation for a few hours following the procedure but balloon angioplasty and stenting are outpatient procedures.
Do You Have Risk Factors for Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Peripheral arterial disease is a serious condition, and you may not realize you have it until your arteries are damaged. It’s also associated with other dangerous chronic conditions. Knowing and managing your risks can help you avoid PAD.
The arteries around your heart are your coronary arteries and the ones in your neck that supply blood to your brain are your carotid arteries. The others are your peripheral arteries, which can be affected by peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Most often, PAD affects the arteries that go to your legs and feet, but it can affect others as well.
At Beach Wellness MD, Dr. Ali Golshan is an expert in diagnosing and treating vascular conditions, including PAD. If you have any of the risk factors we describe below or you’ve noticed symptoms, contact us so we can help you identify lifestyle changes and treatments that can help you control your symptoms and slow or prevent worsening of the disease.
PAD occurs when a fatty substance called plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries. Over time, the plaque causes your arteries to become stiff and narrow, which makes it more difficult for the blood to flow through them.
This stiffness and narrowing of your arteries is called atherosclerosis, which can lead to other serious health problems. For example, if you have PAD, you may also have plaque buildup in your coronary arteries and a far higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Symptoms of PAD don’t often develop until there is severe blockage of your arteries. In fact, 50% of people with PAD don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptom is leg pain, also called claudication, when walking. You may feel an intense pain in your calf when you walk, severe enough that you have to stop. Other symptoms include:
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Ulcers on your toes or feet
- Cold limbs
- A change of color in your legs
What makes PAD more likely?
Lifestyle factors have a large impact on the likelihood of you developing PAD and can help reduce your symptoms if you already have it. If not controlled, these factors can raise your risk of developing PAD.
The older you are, the greater your risk of PAD. The rate of PAD in the general population is 10-15%, but in people older than 70, it’s 15-20%.
Smoking raises your risk for a whole host of health issues, including certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. People who smoke are 2-6 times more likely to develop PAD than those who don’t smoke. Not only does smoking make it more likely you’ll develop PAD, it also makes the symptoms you feel worse.
Untreated high blood pressure, also called hypertension, can put a strain on the arteries in your arms and legs. This strain can lead to narrowing of your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are narrowed from hypertension and you have plaque buildup, PAD is more likely.
There are many reasons to control your blood sugar when you have diabetes. One key reason is that it can cause damage to the walls of your arteries, and that damage can make it easier for plaque to build up.
Cholesterol is a type of naturally wax-like fat. Cholesterol in moderation is integral to the process of many bodily functions. If there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, though, it can contribute to the development of PAD.
PAD treatment approaches
The first step in treating PAD is to make simple, healthy lifestyle changes. For example, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent PAD and can help ease the symptoms if it’s already developed.
When lifestyle changes don’t relieve your symptoms or if your PAD has progressed too far for them to be effective, Dr. Golshan may recommend diagnostic studies, medication, or one of the following procedures:
- Angioplasty and stenting
- Laser atherectomy
- Bypass surgery
If you have pain in your calves when you walk, or you have the risk factors above, consider booking an appointment at Beach Wellness MD and let Dr. Golshan determine your risk of PAD. You can request an appointment online or simply give us a Call.