The Vascular Clinic at the Heart & Vascular Institute brings specialists together in one location to diagnose and treat peripheral vascular disease.
If you’ve been diagnosed, you can benefit from seeing one of our specialists in interventional cardiology, interventional radiology or vascular surgery. We also provide important educational information to help prevent or manage peripheral vascular disease and keep you well.
Just as the arteries in your heart can become clogged, so can the arteries in your legs, neck or other parts of your body. If you have pain or cramping in your legs, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or smoke, you may have symptoms or risk factors of peripheral artery disease (PAD) or other types of peripheral vascular disease.
PAD and other potentially serious conditions like carotid artery stenosis and abdominal aortic aneurysm affect circulation and the health of blood vessels outside the heart, increasing your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
About Peripheral Vascular Disease (PAD)
What is PAD?
Peripheral Vascular Disease includes PAD and a variety of conditions that affect different types of blood vessels, and increase your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD): A blockage or narrowing of the arteries of the body most commonly found in the legs, but can involve many of the body’s arteries. Even if no symptoms are present, PAD increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and death, more than coronary artery disease.
- Claudication: An obstruction in the arteries, typically in the legs or arms, that causes cramping during exercise and is relieved by rest
- Carotid artery stenosis: A narrowing or blockage of the artery leading to the brain
- Renal artery stenosis: A narrowing or blockage of the arteries leading to the kidneys
- Mesenteric artery stenosis: A narrowing or blockage of the arteries leading to the other organs in the abdomen
- Peripheral aneurysms like abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA): A weakening of the wall of the artery that leads from the heart, causing an enlarged vessel and an increased risk of rupture
- Pulmonary embolism: A clot in the arteries of the lungs
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): A clot in the veins of the legs
- Chronic venous insufficiency: A problem with blood flow from the back of the legs to the heart. The condition can lead to varicose veins, swelling and leg pain, and non-healing ulcers.
PAD Risk Factors
PAD affects 8 to 12 million Americans, many who have not been diagnosed. These conditions and habits increase your chance of having or developing PAD:
- 50 years of age or older
- Smoking (current or past)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- History of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke
- African American—African Americans are more than twice as likely to have PAD as their white counterparts.
Because PAD often doesn’t cause symptoms, you may have the disease and not know it. Or, you may ignore the symptoms thinking they are a natural part of aging or from another cause. Contact your doctor if you experience:
- Leg muscle fatigue, heaviness or cramping when walking or climbing stairs, that goes away once the activity stops, and during rest
- Pain in the legs and/or feet that disturbs sleep
- Sores or wounds on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
- A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other
- Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs
Timely detection and treatment of PVD can help reduce your symptoms, improve your quality of life, help you keep your independence and mobility, and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, and even death.
The Vascular Clinic is located on the second floor of Lancaster General Hospital. Even before you arrive for your visit, we will have carefully reviewed your records and will be ready to help you navigate through diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.
During your initial visit, you will be evaluated to determine the best course of treatment. If diagnostic tests are needed, they can be performed onsite at Lancaster General Hospital. The Clinic team will collaborate to develop the best possible treatment plan for you, and share that plan with your primary care doctor.
Screenings and Diagnostic Tests
We offer the following screenings:
- Ankle/brachial index (ABI): This simple, non-invasive test uses blood pressure cuffs on the ankle and upper arm to screen for PAD in the legs.
- Diagnostic imaging: Ultrasound images locate blockages or clots in the veins or arteries of the arms, legs and abdomen. In some cases, we may use computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to obtain detailed pictures of arteries or veins.
Prevention and Wellness
You can manage and even prevent PVD by making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk factors. Our nurse practitioner is here to guide you, offering education and information on Lancaster General Health resources to help you quit smoking, become more active, control your blood pressure, manage your weight, and stay as active as possible.
Reducing PVD risks requires aggressive treatment of cholesterol and abnormal blood lipids, diabetes and blood pressure. We tailor medication therapies to reduce the risk of vascular complications, such as stroke. We can also offer medications that help reduce your pain and other symptoms.
Procedures and Surgeries
If the blood flow in one of your limbs is completely or almost completely blocked, you may benefit from having a procedure or surgery in addition to medications and lifestyle changes. Procedures such as angioplasty and bypass graft surgery will not cure PAD, but can improve the blood circulation to your legs and your ability to walk.
We offer procedures to relieve blockages, open narrowing blood vessels, and protect weak artery walls. Whenever possible, we restore blood flow using a more minimally invasive approach through catheter-based therapies, such as balloons, stents and new non-stent techniques.