LRH Now Provides Screening Exam for Peripheral Arterial Disease
LRH now offers a new screening exam to detect Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), a serious but common disease in which the arteries of the body’s extremities become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits known as plaque, which reduces blood flow to the extremities, including the legs, feet, brain, and arms.
The chance of having PAD increases with age. People over the age of 50 have a higher risk for PAD, but the risk is increased among people that:
• Smoke, or used to smoke
• Have diabetes
• Have high blood pressure
• Have abnormal blood cholesterol levels
• Are of African American ethnicity
• Have had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke
• Have a family history of PAD, heart attack, or stroke
PAD can impact individuals in many ways. Although three in four people with PAD have no symptoms, one in four may have pain when walking, cramps or pain in the legs, thighs, or buttocks, foot or toe pain that disturbs their sleep, or skin wounds on the feet or toes that are slow to heal. Additionally, hardened arteries found in people with PAD are a sign that they are likely to have hardened or narrowed arteries to the heart and the brain. Due to this fact, people with PAD have a two to six times greater chance of death from a heart attack or stroke.
According to LRH Radiology Manager Tracy Evans, the PAD screening exam is very similar to a blood pressure check. “It is non-invasive, painless, and takes 45 minutes to one hour. Patients lie down on an exam table and a Radiology Technologist wraps pressure cuffs around the arms, above the knees, calves, and ankles. The cuffs are inflated and sensors record the pulse waves,” she said. “Blood pressures are recorded at the arms and ankles and an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) is determined by the ratio between these two pressures. PAD is diagnosed if the ankle pressure is lower than the arm pressure. With severe arterial narrowing, the ABI or ankle pressure may be half the arm pressure.”
Measurements are sent to cardiologists at North Central Heart in Sioux Falls and the cardiologist’s interpretation is given to the patient’s family physician one or two days after the exam. PAD, once diagnosed, can be treated with lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery.
A physician’s referral is required to receive a PAD screening exam. Those interested in more information about this exam are encouraged to call LRH’s Radiology Department at 336-8658.