Mechanism, diagnosis and risk factors
Peripheral arterial disease is caused by a blockage in the arteries that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the lower limbs (legs).
In most cases, this blockage is linked to atherosclerosis, which is found in patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and tobacco use.
Age and heredity are also risk factors.
Peripheral arterial disease may be asymptomatic and mainly cause pain or fatigue in the legs following exertion, which disappears after a period of rest (claudication). In more severe cases, there may be rest pain (pain in the foot at night) or wounds (ulcers, gangrene).
Presence and extent of peripheral arterial disease will generally be evaluated using the results of an arterial Doppler ultrasound.
Costs for Doppler ultrasounds performed at Clinique Pierre Larose are not covered by the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec (RAMQ). However, many private insurance providers will cover them.
Patients with critical ischaemia (pain at rest, wound) may benefit from endovascular intervention (balloon +/- stent) or surgery. Intervention might be considered for patients with severe, disabling claudication, considering their age and medical history.