The Vascular Center, a cooperative effort between Kalispell Regional Medical Center and The HealthCenter, is focused on early identification and treatment for patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
What is PAD?
PAD occurs when there is a narrowing of the blood vessels outside of your heart. The cause of PAD is atherosclerosis. This happens when plaque, a substance made up of fat and cholesterol, builds up on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs. The plaque causes the arteries to narrow or become blocked. This can reduce or stop blood flow, usually to the legs, causing them to hurt or feel numb. If severe enough, blocked blood flow can cause tissue death. If this condition is left untreated, a foot or leg may need to be amputated.
A person with PAD also has an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and transient ischemic attack. You can often stop or reverse the buildup of plaque in the arteries with dietary changes, exercise, and efforts to lower high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Risk Factors for PAD
If you smoke, you have an especially high risk for PAD.
If you have diabetes, you have an especially high risk for PAD.
People with high blood pressure or high cholesterol are at risk for PAD.
People who are obese are at risk for PAD.
Symptoms of PAD
Leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising
Foot or toe wounds that won't heal or heal very slowly
A marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot, particularly compared to the other leg or to the rest of your body
Diagnosis and Treatment
The Vascular Center offers many diagnostic tools for your doctor to check for PAD. A simple test, called an ankle-brachial index, can be used to diagnose PAD. The ankle-brachial index compares blood pressure in the ankle with blood pressure in the arm to see how well blood is flowing.
Treatments for PAD may include lifestyle changes, drug therapies, exercise therapy, endovascular approaches (such as stenting), surgery and more.
For More Information
For more information about PAD, talk to your physician or call (406) 257-8992.