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Peripheral artery disease treated with nonsurgical procedures

September 28, 2010
Keeping your cholesterol in check helps more than your heart. The same fatty deposits that clog coronary arteries can block blood vessels anywhere outside the heart. The narrowing of vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach, kidneys, and brain is called peripheral vascular disease or peripheral artery disease (PAD). Many PAD sufferers can be treated with lifestyle changes, medicines, or both. But when the condition is more advanced, cardiologists at St. Mary's perform interventional, nonsurgical procedures to improve blood flow to extremities and organs, says Marcus Howell, MD, cardiologist with Western Slope Cardiology. Angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure that opens narrowed peripheral arteries using an inflated balloon, Howell explains. A stent--a wire mesh tube--may be placed to hold open a narrowed artery. "If an aneurysm, a widening or bulge in an artery, has formed, we can create a bypass to detour blood around that weakened spot," Howell says. Smoking, high-cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a personal or family history of stroke or heart disease are risk factors, and leg pain is often a symptom of PAD, which can often be diagnosed with a screening ultrasound.