By Munish Goyal, M.D.
When people come to the cardiologist office they often focus just on their hearts. We ask patients how much they exercise and whether they have any shortness of breath or chest pain. One of the things that we tend to overlook, however, is leg pain. Just like developing blockages in the heart, many of the same patients can develop blockages in the legs especially if they have diabetes or smoke. Frequently patients assume that many of their symptoms such as leg pain, calf
pain or lower back pain are related to arthritic or orthopedic issues. Often times however we find that some of the same symptoms can be produced by poor circulation in the legs. The classic symptoms for PVD are cramping or tightening sensation in the calves that occur with walking. The symptoms usually resolve with rest, however, different levels of exertion can produce different intensities of discomfort. Similar strategies in treating CAD such as blood thinners and cholesterol medications can often help improve the symptoms of PVD. The diagnosis of PVD can be made easily with dopplers done in the doctor’s office. Other tests such as CT scans or the invasive angiogram can also be used to diagnose and treat PVD. Frequently we find that treating with stents and balloons help to alleviate many of the symptoms. Discussions with your primary care doctor or cardiologist can easily lead to the diagnosis and potential treatment of PVD, getting you back to walking and returning to a heart healthy lifestyle.