Medwatch: Local cardiologist discusses Peripheral Artery Disease and prevention

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 10:49 AM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) -According to the CDC, around 6.5 million people ages 40 and older have peripheral artery disease in the U.S. A local cardiologist at the Heart & Vascular Center in Lawton said he sees several people every day with this disease.

Peripheral artery disease, also known as “PAD,” is the narrowing and blockage of arteries in the legs or lower extremities. Doctor Eugen Ivan, a cardiologist at the Heart & Vascular Center, said the risk of getting the disease increases as you get older. However, anyone can be diagnosed with it.

“Many times what I hear from older patients is that it’s just age. They can’t walk because its just age. Whereas in reality, its because their muscles don’t get enough blood flow because they have blocked arteries,” said Dr. Ivan.

There are several types of symptoms, like discomfort in the calves or wounds that won’t heal.

“Wounds, especially in the foot and/or around the ankles or sometimes on the shin that don’t heal even with good wound care, and in a certain context, especially if you’re a smoker or diabetic peripheral artery disease needs to be taken into account,” said Dr. Ivan.

He said there’s a direct link between smoking and PAD.

“So 80% of the patients who have pad are either current or former smokers. There’s a very strong linkage. As soon as we diagnose the disease, we tell our patients to stop smoking. Otherwise the risk of losing a leg goes very very high,” said Dr. Ivan.

Other things that raise your risk of getting it are high cholesterol, diabetes, and a family history of the disease. Dr. Ivan recently treated a patient who suffered from it and didn’t know until they had a wound that wouldn’t heal.

“Many times, it’s necessary to unblock the arteries to restore blood flow especially to the legs, so that the patient can walk further and faster for their daily lives, and in other cases they need blood flow for the wounds to heal adequately and save the leg from amputation,” said Dr. Ivan.

He says maintaining a healthy diet and refraining from smoking can decrease your risk.