Blood flow matters

Blood flow matters

Peripheral Arterial Disease affects close to 50,000 people in India, although most are unaware of the condition or the seriousness of it, warns Dr K R Suresh.

Have you been experiencing numbness or heaviness in the leg muscles while walking or climbing stairs? Does the wound on your toes and feet take a very long time to heal? We often see people ignore  indications like pale or bluish colour of the skin, poor nail growth on the toes or decreased hair growth on the legs. These could be indicative of  Peripheral          Arterial Disease (PAD).

PAD of the lower             extremities affects approximately 50,000 people in India, often causing critical limb ischemia, in which poor blood circulation in the calf, ankle, foot and toes can lead to ulcerated sores, amputation and in some cases, premature death. Research indicates that 50 percent of patients who undergo amputation due to PAD die within five years!

What is it?

PAD is a circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs and other parts of the body, except the heart and brain. The most common cause is atherosclerosis i.e. the formation of plaque (blockage) that is made up of fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood.

Risk factors

Smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, age (50 or older) and familial history, are some of the common risk       factors. High LDL increases your chances of getting PAD, while high HDL, decreases your chances of getting PAD.


Once you have been physically examined by your doctor and have shown signs/symptoms of PAD, your doctor may advise you accordingly to undergo either Ankle Brachial Pressure Index (ABPI/ABI), Doppler Ultrasound, Angiography, or CT/MR Angiography.


Treatments may vary depending on the severity of the disease. They include lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery (bypass procedures) or minimal                   procedures like angioplasty. The overall goals of treating PAD include reducing symptoms, improving quality of life and preventing complications.

(The writer is the director of Jain Institute of Vascular Sciences, Bangalore)