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Medwatch: How peripheral vascular disease is detected

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 7:43 AM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Peripheral vascular disease is a condition that affects a fifth of those who are eighty and older. Dr. Vijaya Velury, a cardiologist at the Heart and Vascular Center in Lawton, said peripheral vascular disease refers to when there is a blockage in the arteries that are not in the heart. Such as arms and legs.

“People with peripheral vascular disease are also at increased risk for having heart problems and strokes,” he said. “So it’s not only important to recognize peripheral vascular disease itself, but it also an indication for the highest population as far as the heart and stroke are concerned.”

Dr. Velury said there are four ways it will present itself. He says about 50% of people don’t have any symptoms.

“And some people have classic claudication symptoms,” Dr. Velury said. “After walking such a distance, they have pain in the calf, and when they stop walking, the pain goes away, and when they start walking again, the pain comes back.”

He said another symptom is pain at rest or an ulcer that just won’t heal.

“And those are the people that are at increased risk for losing their leg,” she said. “And lastly, they can present what we call acute ischemia, meaning that suddenly they have severe pain in the leg, and this is followed by loss of sensation, and they have paralysis of the leg.”

Dr. Velury said it’s important to let your doctor know if you have any of those symptoms. He said one of the ways they’re able to check to is if there is a blockage is by checking the patient’s blood pressure in their arm and leg and comparing the ratios.

“So when you have a blockage in the legs, the pressure in the legs is going to be lower than your arm pressure,” he said. “So, the ratio gives an indication of how bad the blockage is.”

He said an angiogram with dye can also be done to see exactly where the blockage is. There are a few ways they can fix the blockage. Dr. Velury said one way is inserting a balloon to push away the plaque and then deflate the balloon.

“Our other option is to put a stint in there,” Dr. Velury said. “When we do the balloon, it can sometimes collapse again, and the plaque can recoil, and at those places, we can put a stint in there.”

He said there are other devices they can use just based on how it’s blocked. If someone has peripheral vascular disease, a team at CCMH, comprised of vascular surgery, cardiologist, wound care, and podiatry, work together when needed.

“Whenever there is a wound that’s not healing, the wound care calls us all the time, and we’re also in touch with the vascular surgeons if somebody needs bypass surgery and podiatry,” he said. “So we have a very good team and all work together.”

Dr. Velury said diabetes is a big risk factor along with smoking, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

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