What to Expect from Your PAD Medical Team
Have you noticed new or increased symptoms such as poor circulation, leg pain, cold legs and sores recently?
Too many people dismiss these important signs as mild irritations. Some also worry that physicians won’t take their concerns seriously or, worse, will recommend amputation. It feels easier to not schedule a doctor appointment.
Early detection is important if you have peripheral artery disease (PAD). Through tests such as an ankle-brachial index (ABI) and getting the right treatment, you can help stop the disease from getting worse. You might also save a toe or leg from amputation.17
Learning how a team of medical providers will work with you will also make you feel more comfortable going to appointments.
Keep your PAD medical appointments
If you’re experiencing new symptoms, your first step is to meet with your primary care physician (PCP). According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, “If you are older than 50, have diabetes, are a smoker or overweight and have leg pain when you walk, it is a good sign to talk to your doctor.” Your PCP’s evaluation will help determine if you need to see a specialist.
Your PAD medical team probably will involve several providers. “Nurse practitioners or physicians will function as a navigator for patients to ensure they go to every appointment,” says Dr. Jason Mendivil, a podiatrist for Pulse Amputation Prevention Centers in El Paso, TX. “It’s important to see every healthcare professional that is recommended to you — from interventional radiologists to podiatrists to vascular surgeons.”
What to expect from a PAD specialist
During your checkup with a PCP, they will determine if you’re at risk for PAD by asking questions about your medical history. They may also perform or request an ABI test. With this test, your doctors can compare the blood pressure in an artery of the ankle to the blood pressure in an artery of the arm.
If you need to see a PAD specialist, you may work with a team of clinical care coordinators, podiatrists and wound care specialists, vascular specialists and other healthcare professionals.
- Podiatrist will perform a general physical examination of your feet, especially with diabetic patients. They will also treat and track the healing of open wounds.
- Vascular specialists will examine the blood flow through your entire leg. “Once I get an entire good picture of the entire arteries and circulation of both legs, then we make a decision of what is the best way to treat a patient,” says Dr. M. Laiq Raja, a cardiologist at Pulse Amputation Prevention Centers in El Paso, TX. Minimally invasive endovascular procedures include angioplasty, stenting and/or atherectomy. For more serious forms of PAD, doctors may recommend arterial bypass surgery(Arterial bypass surgery) Your doctor will create a graft bypass using a vessel from another part of the body or a blood vessel made of synthetic fabric. This technique allows blood to flow around – or bypass – the blocked or narrowed artery..
Schedule an initial evaluation and keep ongoing medical appointments with your PAD medical team. That way you can have more treatment options and avoid amputation of a toe, foot or leg due to advanced PAD.
For more information
If you or a loved one needs help finding a doctor or getting a second opinion, use CSI’s Find a Doctor tool to help find a PAD expert near you.