LUFKIN, TEXAS (September 26, 2017)… Lufkin cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and the CHI St. Luke’s Health-Memorial cath lab team are making a new fashion statement this month – all for a very important cause. They are donning a single white sock to remind patients about the dangers of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, or cholesterol buildup in the arteries. Clogged arteries limit blood flow to the legs, and can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or amputation. PAD affects 8 to 12 million Americans, including 1 in 20 people over age 50, according to the National Institutes of Health. September is celebrated as PAD Awareness Month. The White Sock Campaign was started by a Florida physician to bring awareness to the seriousness of the disease, and Lufkin cardiologists agree it is a major issue in East Texas.
“East Texans have a higher risk of developing PAD due to having predominately unhealthy lifestyles, which include lack of exercise, smoking and poor diets,” said Ravinder Bachireddy, M.D., Medical Director of CHI St. Luke’s Health-Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation and President of the Heart Institute of East Texas. “By participating in the White Sock Campaign, we hope to encourage our patients to be familiar with the risk factors of PAD before it’s too late.”
Not only can PAD result in amputation, but few people realize that the long-term mortality rates after non-traumatic lower-limb amputation are extremely high. A 2016 study published in Prosthetics and Orthotics International found the 3-year rate was 33%, and higher among those who had diabetes. The complications of PAD can be so costly that Medicare now pays for supervised exercise therapy for patients with the condition to keep the disease from progressing.
Smoking increases the risk of PAD 4-fold, according to NIH, so it’s important for at-risk patients to kick the addiction. They also need to make changes in their diet, get more exercise, and follow medication regimens to prevent blood clots.
It’s essential that patients with risk factors learn the signs of PAD, so they can be treated right away and avoid amputation. Lower-leg pain shouldn’t be dismissed or put off to the next appointment. Risk factors include:
· Age 50 or older
· Smoking or being a former smoker
· High cholesterol
· A personal history of vascular disease
· African American heritage
Knowing the symptoms of PAD is also important:
· Claudication: fatigue, heaviness, cramping in the legs, thighs, buttocks, or calves; pain goes away once activity stops, but activity is necessary to prevent long-term issues
· Leg pain that disturbs sleep
· Sores or wounds on legs, toes or feet that will not heal
· Color changes in the skin on the feet
· Lower temperature in one leg than the other
· Poor nail growth or decreased hair growth on the toes and legs
Patients experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their physician as soon as possible.
- Misty Boggs is the Creative Director at MSGPR. She lives in Angelina County and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Public Relations and a minor in Creative Writing at Stephen F. Austin State University. Between studying and working, she enjoys teaching her niece and nephew the fine art of never growing old.
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