Know The Symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease and Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Team of Experts from UL Hospitals Group Offer Advice and Screening at National Ploughing Championships 2019
Pain and Cramping in the Lower Legs May Be a Warning Sign
AN expert team from University Hospital Limerick will be advising on the warning signs of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) next week as part of a major government initiative at the National Ploughing Championships in County Carlow.
Medical, nursing and allied health professionals will be sharing information about and screening for PAD, a serious condition where blood flow to the legs and feet is significantly reduced, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Teams from across the HSE, other state agencies and government departments will be setting up in the Health and Wellness exhibition area of the Government Village for the three-day duration of Ireland’s biggest festival from September 17th to 19th. These will include the HSE’s National Sepsis Team, including Ms Yvonne Young, Assistant Director of Nursing, UL Hospitals Group. The Peripheral Artery Disease team from UHL will be located at Block 3, Row 21, Stand 458.
“We are delighted to have been selected to exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships this year,” said Pamela Ryan, Vascular Clinical Nurse Specialist, University Hospital Limerick.
“An experienced multidisciplinary team will be travelling, including consultant vascular surgeons, specialist nurses, vascular physiologist, podiatrist and staff who are engaged in researching what is a significant and growing condition.”
“Peripheral Artery Disease occurs when extra cholesterol and other fats circulating in the blood collect – in the form of plaque – in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to your limbs. It is the narrowing of the arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head. PAD is most common in the arteries to the pelvis and legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs mean you are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” Ms Ryan explained.
She added that many people who experience common symptoms such as pain or cramping in the legs often do not report them, supposing the symptoms to be a sign of ageing. These symptoms often occur when people are out walking, exercising or climbing stairs.
The burden of PAD is significant and to date this year a total of 15 patients in UHL alone have undergone amputations for lower limb ischemia associated with PAD.
“But our message is a positive one about prevention, awareness and management,” said Ms Ryan. “Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve your quality of life; help you keep your independence and mobility; reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation and even death. What we are saying to people is to take some time to learn more about PAD and to ask your healthcare provider to check your risk,” Ms Ryan said.
Risk factors for PAD include smoking, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and physical inactivity.
Diagnosis usually begins by taking a medical history and physical examination including palpation of peripheral pulses. A simple test called the ABPI (ankle brachial pressure index) can also be undertaken and this compares blood pressure in your ankle to that in your arms. This screening test will be performed by members of the UHL team at the Ploughing Championships as part of the awareness campaign.
Management and treatment of PAD entails or combines three main approaches: making lifestyle changes to lower your risk; taking medications such as statins and surgical intervention.
Prof Eamon Kavanagh, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, UL Hospitals Group, commented: “ We want to raise awareness around PAD with the dual aim of reducing amputation rates and improving quality of life and the National Ploughing Championships are an excellent opportunity for us to do that.”