The QuantaFlo™ System from Semler Scientific is a fast and easy test to perform that aids in the diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease. It’s FDA cleared, patented and in use in doctor’s offices throughout the country.
A brief overview of Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease (often abbreviated as PAD) is a condition that results from arteries begin to narrow. It is one of the most common cardiovascular problems that leads to reduced blood flow to some parts of the limbs. The statistical report indicates that the above condition affects about nine percent of the population; nonetheless, it will only cause problems or symptoms in about a quarter of those victims.
Here is a good article from QuantaFlo™ on exercise and PAD.
How it develops
PAD (sometimes called peripheral vascular disease) is a disease that affects the arteries, but some of the latest reports show that it affects veins as well. As we all know, arteries are responsible for transporting blood away from the heart besides supplying oxygen and other vital nutrients to every part of the body. Typically, an artery is a hollow cylindrical tube with a smooth surface on the inside wall to allow for smooth travel of blood. As the blood travel inside the arteries, it can leave some deposits (often referred to as plaque) that stick to the inside wall of the arteries. Over time, these deposits gradually build up narrowing the tube from inside. This is often referred to as atherosclerosis. In a nutshell, this explains how the above condition develop. As earlier stated, the narrow blood vessels affect the blow of blood to various parts of the body, including the arms, stomach, kidneys, and more often, the legs. People with the above condition are also at higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
Common causes of PAD
The most common cause of the peripheral arterial disease is atherosclerosis, as explained above. Other less common causes include the following:
• Blood clots in the arteries
• Unusual anatomy of the ligaments and muscles
• Injury to the limbs
Risk factors that contribute to the development of the above condition include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, increasing age, hypertension, excessive levels of homocysteine, or even family history (hereditary) condition of vascular diseases.
Signs and symptoms of PAD
Doctors and other medical experts say that more than 50% of all people with the peripheral artery disease are not even aware that they have the condition. As earlier mentioned in the introductory section, this is because many of them do not show signs and symptoms. Nonetheless, if you experience any of the below symptoms, then you are more likely suffering from PAD, and you need to see your doctor as soon as possible:
• Cramp or ache in leg muscles when walking
• Hair loss on the legs and feet
• Leg weakness
• Numbness in the legs
• The lower leg or foot feeling cold
• Brittle toenails
• Ulcers/sores on the feet and legs that never heal or take very long to heal
• Toenails grow very slowly
• The skin on the legs turns shiny, bluish, or pale
• Impotence in men caused erectile dysfunction issues
• Not easy to find a pulse in the foot or leg
If you think you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, then you need to see a doctor for a diagnosis. Currently, there are several ways to diagnose PAD, and include any of the following procedures:
- QuantaFlo™ System: This advanced system from Semler Scientific, Inc. is the fastest, simplest and most accurate test.
- Ankle Brachial Index (or ABI): It is an old-fashioned method for accessing the blood supply to both feet by analyzing and comparing blood pressure in both arms. If you have PAD, it is more likely that one foot will have lower pressure than the other.
- Blood tests, angiography, and ultrasound: It is a procedure for checking cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine levels.
- Other diagnosis options include Angiogram, Magnetic resonance angiography (or MRA), Duplex Imaging Ultrasound, Computed tomographic angiography (or CT), and Treadmill exercise test.
Treatment for PAD
Undiagnosed as well as untreated peripheral artery disease can be dangerous. It can lead to loss of a leg (or both), painful symptoms, and increased risk of carotid atherosclerosis and other related coronary artery diseases. By and large, the following are some of the recommended treatment and management options for the above condition:
#1. Regular physical activities
Engaging in regular physical exercises is perhaps one of the most efficient PAD procedures. The activities of concern include simple leg exercises, walking regimens, treadmill exercise programs, and much more.
#2. Managing risk factors
Risk factors to PAD such high blood pressure should be managed effectively. If you are smoking, then you need to stop it altogether. Experts say that quitting smoking helps to slow the progression of peripheral artery disease and other heart-associated diseases.
#3. Diet adjustments and changes
Many people suffering from the above condition have higher levels of cholesterol. Dietary changes that help lower the levels should be effected immediately. The most recommended diet is the one low in trans-fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Besides that, vegetables and fruits should form part of regular food intake.
#4. Invasive therapy
For many individuals with severe PAD, invasive treatment such as stent or angioplasty insertion could do well at this stage.
Depending on the severeness of the condition, the doctor may prescribe different drugs. The statins and antihypertensive are drugs used to manage cholesterol levels. Anti-platelet medication is administered to prevent blood clotting from forming on the inside walls of the arteries. The peripheral vasodilator is a drug used to relax blood vessels (arteries) to allow blood flow smoothly and efficiently.
#6. Bypass Graft
If the condition is quite severe, then bypass graft is the last solution. A surgical operation (which is very expensive) involves attaching a hollow tube (called graft) above the area of the occluded or narrow artery and terminating it at the part below the diseased artery. By doing so, it will create a new path for the blood to pass through, therefore, improving blood supply to the foot and leg.