Dr. Michael Jaff describes peripheral artery disease (PAD) and shares the risk factors, symptoms and treatment options available. Dr. Jaff is a physician at the Peripheral Artery Disease Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Vascular Center.
First you need to know what PAD is; that it’s artery blockage in the leg that can cause your leg to bother you when you do something. It’s associated with artery blockage in other blood vessels around the body, like in the heart and in the brain. And so, if this isn’t identified, your risk of having a heart attack and stroke, and even dying prematurely from a cardiovascular event, is significantly higher.
Diabetes is one of the two most important risk factors for the development of PAD, the other one being cigarette smoking. So if you are over the age of 50 and you have diabetes, your risk of having blockage of the arteries in the legs, or PAD, is one in three. So it’s a significant risk.
The symptoms of PAD are often missed by other people – doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, as signs of aging. So, arthritis in the spine, hip problems, just getting old and out of shape, the doctor will put blood pressure cuffs around your ankles and your arms and measure the actual pressure.
Once your doctor suspects PAD we have a number of non-invasive tests that we can use to help determine where the blockage is and how bad it is.
Some of these safe, simple, and reliable non-invasive tests were first invented at Mass General and we use those tests to help predict where the blockage is and what can be done about that.
Once the diagnosis has been made, we have specialists across the spectrum of care at Mass General who can help decide the best treatment options for you. Those include medication therapy, exercise treatments, and even minimally invasive procedures like balloon angioplasty, stent placement – those types of devices that can help restore blood floor to the lower leg.
Uncommonly we will have to use an operational or a surgical procedure, but the goal is to develop a treatment plan specifically for you to make you lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes and improve your quality of life.
About Dr. Michael Ritt Jaff, D.O.:
Dr. Jaff is an active clinical consultant in all aspects of vascular medicine, including peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease, renal and mesenteric artery disease, venous thromboembolic disease, aortic and peripheral arterial aneurysmal diseases, and all diagnostic strategies in vascular medicine.