South Florida Vascular Associates South Florida Vascular Associates

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frank's Story: Peripheral Artery Disease


Clogged leg arteries, or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects up to 20% of Americans 65 or older.

William Julien, M.D., medical director of South Florida Vascular Associates says, “As the population ages that number is expected to climb even higher.” Aging, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are the key risk factors.

PAD often occurs in the iliac arteries, the main arteries which carry blood from the abdominal aorta to the legs and feet. Often, the first sign of iliac artery disease is leg cramps or pain when walking. In its most severe form, PAD can cause painful sores on a patient’s toes and feet. If left untreated, the blood circulation to the lower extremities will diminish causing ulcers that can become dry, gray or black, and eventually gangrenous, which can lead to amputation of a limb.

67 year-old Frank Bartilotta was forced to retire from the grocery business, in part because of PAD. His quality of life was miserable and he was unable couldn’t do anything that required walking. He even had to sit in a chair to shower.

Unloading grocery trucks for years and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day took its toll. on Bartilotta. His walking capability was only a couple of minutes at the most.

His PAD was so severe, treatment required angioplasty and iliac stenting in both legs.

 “Treating PAD with stents is not new. We’ve been doing it more than 20 years, says Dr. Julien, but the technique and the stents are more durable and better constructed these days.”
Mounting research confirms iliac stenting is safe, highly effective and life  extending.

Nearly 100-percent of all patients with PAD can be successfully treated. The procedure, which takes roughly up to 90 minutes and is performed with local anesthesia, is fairly simple and similar to placing stents in clogged arteries in other parts of the body. Most patients are usually up on their feet roughly two to six hours after the procedure and can immediately go back to normal activities.

In Bartilotta’s case, the iliac stents originally put in place by another doctor were too small. Bartilotta was referred to Dr. Julien who fixed the problem by doing balloon angioplasty to open up the stents wider, replacing normal blood flow to his legs. And it worked!

Bartilotta  never thought he would be back to normal, but now he is able to do whatever he wants. He can walk a good 10-to-15 minutes at a time and it’s getting better all the time. Life is pretty close to back to normal. he even went on a cruise on the biggest ship in the world and was able to walk the entire length of the ship.Barlotta now swims again, goes to the gym, takes long walks and is able to resume his fulfilling active life as he once knew it.

If you have been diagnosed or suspect that PAD is your problem, take our survey to see if you are at risk and make an appointment at our Broward or Palm Beach office with one of our physicians to discuss the best treatment option for you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are You At Risk For Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) ?

 According to the Society of Interventional Radiologists, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects an estimated 8 to 10 million people in the United States. Individuals with PAD are at greater risk for heart attack, stroke and loss of limbs, yet awareness among the general public and primary care physicians regarding diagnosis, treatment and prevention of this disease is extremely low. 

The most common symptom of PAD is painful cramping in the hips, thighs, or calves when walking, climbing stairs or exercising.

Get Tested for PAD If You
•    Are over age 50
•    Have a family history of vascular disease, such as PAD, aneurysm, heart attack or stroke
•    Have high cholesterol and/or high lipid blood test
•    Have diabetes
•    Have ever smoked or smoke now
•    Have an inactive lifestyle
•    Have a personal history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or other vascular disease
•    Have trouble walking that involves cramping or tiredness in the muscle with walking or exercising, which is relieved by resting
•    Have pain in the legs or feet that awaken you at night

We invite you to answer a few yes or no questions on our questionnaire to get a baseline indication whether you are at potential risk for peripheral artery disease.  Fill out your contact information and if your score indicates that you may be at risk please contact our office for a consultation with one of our board certified interventional radiologists.

Minimally Invasive Procedure Saves Limbs and Lives for Those Suffering From Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease(PAD) is the hardening or narrowing of the arteries in the leg caused by fatty deposits or calcium which accumulate in the blood vessels of the buttocks, legs, and feet blocking normal blood flow.

Early signs of PAD can include pain to the hips, legs, and feet during normal activities such as walking. When PAD advances, it can lead to Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) which includes leg pain at rest, wounds that are slow to heal, and gangrene. This puts a patient at risk for amputation. Depending on the severity of PAD, it can be treated through lifestyle changes, medication, or minimally invasive procedures such as an atherectomy.

An atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that utilizes a catheter with a sharp blade on the end to remove plaque from a blood vessel. The catheter is inserted into the artery through a small puncture in the artery and is navigated under x-ray guidance. It is designed to pulverize the plaque and sands it into tiny particles that are washed away with the patient’s blood flow. By restoring blood flow in the legs, a significant outcome can be achieved for most patients. Interventional radiologists have been using minimally invasive atherectomy procedures for the treatment of PAD for several years, however the technology continues to improve allowing doctors to treat many more people. Atherectomy has been a breakthrough in the treatment of PAD and has proven to improve a patient’s quality of life by alleviating pain, enhancing mobility, re-establishing blood flow to non-healing wounds and reducing the number of amputations.

If you have been diagnosed with PAD there are many treatments that can help you regain your quality of life. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for a consultation with Dr. William Julien or Dr. Warren Swee.