When You Visit Your Doctor - Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease

Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor:

  • Do you develop pain, cramps, aches, fatigue, or numbness in your leg muscles when you walk?
  • At what distance do you develop symptoms?
  • Do they go away when you stop walking?
  • Do you ever develop these symptoms at rest?
  • Do you have decreased sensation in your feet?
  • If you are a man, do you have erectile dysfunction?
  • Are you doing everything possible to modify the risk factors that can worsen this disease (smoking cessation, treating elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and controlling diabetes)?
  • Are you exercising regularly and at progressively more strenuous levels?
  • Are you taking an aspirin every day?
  • If you have diabetes, do you practice meticulous foot care (cleaning, applying moisturizing lotions, and wearing well-fitting protective shoes)?
  • Do you know when to seek emergency medical care for peripheral artery disease (if your leg becomes suddenly painful, pale, cold and numb)?
  • Do you get chest pain or pressure with exertion or at rest? If so, you may have coronary artery disease.
  • Do you have sudden brief episodes of blindness (like a shade being pulled over your eyes) or sudden episodes of weakness in an arm or leg, or difficulty speaking? These could be warning symptoms of stroke.

Your Doctor Might Examine the Following Body Structures or Functions:

  • Heart rate, blood pressure, and weight
  • Pulses in your feet and groin, and behind your knees
  • Listen with the stethoscope over your carotid arteries in your neck
  • Heart and lungs
  • Neurologic exam (reflexes and sensation in your legs)
  • Muscles (looking for atrophy in leg muscles)
  • Skin, looking for changes related to reduced circulation

Your Doctor Might Order the Following Lab Tests or Studies:

  • Blood tests, including glucose and cholesterol levels
  • Ultrasound of your carotid arteries
  • Doppler Ankle-Arm Indices
  • Exercise Stress Test
  • Angiography

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