Thousands of people suffer from leg pain, often chalking it up to advancing age and unaware they may have a dangerous, yet treatable, condition called Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD). In an effort to identify some of those people, Payson Regional Medical Center will join hundreds of hospitals nationwide this September in Legs for Life, National Screening Week for PVD Leg Pain.
The PRMC screening will take place on Sept. 11 from 7 a.m. until noon, and 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. at the Community Presbyterian Church, 800 W. Main Street. Space is limited and appointments are required. To make an appointment, call (928) 468-1012.
PVD affects about 10 million people in the United States, and is a warning sign of potential heart attack, stroke or a life-threatening aneurysm. Atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries due to a build-up of plaque, can cause problems in the legs (PVD) and neck vessels leading to the brain (stroke), just as it can cause heart attacks. When PVD is advanced, it can result in amputation of part of a foot or leg, and even death, in extreme cases.
"PVD can affect not only quality of life, but often may be the first sign of a problem with clogged blood vessels throughout the body," said Dr. Kelvin Danielson, M.D., Chief Radiologist at PRMC. "That's why it is so important to identify early, when it can readily be treated before serious problems occur."
The screening involves completing a brief lifestyle questionnaire and undergoing a simple, painless test that compares blood pressure in the arms and ankles.
More than 200,000 people have been screened since the annual Legs For Life program began in 1998. One in four people screened are found to be at moderate to high risk for PVD, and are referred to their primary care physicians for further testing.
The most common sign of PVD is pain or cramping while walking that subsides when the person rests. Studies have shown that people who experience this symptom, called intermittent claudication, are at a two to three times greater risk of cardiovascular death compared to people of the same age who do not have PVD.
Besides leg pain while walking, other symptoms of PVD include swelling in the legs, numbness and skin discoloration, although in the earliest stages there may be no symptoms. Risk factors for PVD include being over age 50, smoking, having diabetes, being overweight and having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Treatment for PVD can range from lifestyle changes -- including diet modifications and exercise -- to medication, minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty and surgery.
Those at highest risk for PVD are men age 60 or older who have ever smoked, and/or who have a history of atherosclerosis, or plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Also at risk are men and women with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
Consumers can obtain more information about PVD, and request a free patient education brochure by visiting www.legsforlife.org, or by calling the toll-free consumer information line at 877/357-2847.