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Peripheral Artery Disease: Underdiagnosed and Undertreated in Women

Douglas ConnersWritten by: Douglas R Conners, MD, Interventional Radiology with Radiology Associates of the Fox Valley, which provides radiology services at Agnesian HealthCare

Have you heard of peripheral artery disease (PAD)? Despite affecting over 12 million Americans, many people have not.

What is PAD? What causes PAD?

PAD results from the same narrowing of the arteries that cause most heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, PAD has many of the same risk factors, including:

-Age

-Cigarette smoking

-Diabetes

-High Blood Pressure

-Hypercholesterolemia (High Cholesterol)

-Ethnicity

-Family History

What are the symptoms of PAD?

Common symptoms include cramping, pain or tiredness of the muscles with exercise (such as walking or climbing the stairs).  If the blockage is lower in the legs, the symptoms are noticed in the calf.  If the blockage is higher up, symptoms are commonly felt in the thigh or buttocks.  Symptoms of PAD may be mild or severe. In severe cases, patients may have pain at rest or non-healing wounds on their extremities.

Is PAD serious?

PAD is serious. It affects at least 12 million Americans, often leading to disability and death. Women with PAD have four times the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Early diagnosis and treatment of PAD may help to:

-Prevent disability and restore mobility

-Stop disease progression

-Lower risk for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke

How is PAD diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of PAD, your doctor may order a simple diagnostic test know as an Ankle Brachial Index. This test compares the blood pressure in your arms and legs. Further testing and medical work-up may be necessary for proper diagnosis.

For more information, visit the following web site:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2012/April/peripheral-artery-disease

 

 

About Agnesian HealthCare Womens Health

Addressing the physical, emotional and educational needs of women, Agnesian HealthCare's Women's Health Services offers the resources that apply to your life, in all its wonderful complexity. With a Health Resource Center, Obstetric Services, a Domestic Violence Program, Behavioral Health Services and programs serving women in mid-life, a number of options are available in the Fond du Lac, Ripon and Waupun areas.

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