Peripheral vascular disease is a progressive circulatory disease that involves the narrowing of blood vessels, resulting in restricted blood flow to the extremities of the body. Peripheral vascular disease affects nearly 1 in every 5 Australians, with symptoms being slow to appear creating underdiagnosis. Untreated peripheral vascular disease increases the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke by 6 times more than those without and can also result in amputation of affected extremities. Treatment and prevention of peripheral vascular disease are imperative to elongating life, preserving extremities and promoting overall health.
Prevention of peripheral vascular disease is the best option for controlling this life-altering issue. Once diagnosed with this illness, the disease has already affected vital parts of your body. In some instances, lack of blood flow created by peripheral vascular disease creates heart attacks, strokes, and even amputations to limbs not receiving enough oxygenated blood flow. Symptoms to look for to catch the early onset of this disease are pain, numbness and discolouration of the affected area. In progressed cases, sores or ulcers that do not show signs of healing along with the appearance of dead skin, are also symptoms of the disease progressing.
The biggest risk factor for peripheral vascular disease is diabetes. The uncontrolled and elevated blood sugar levels in those with diabetes are said to contribute to the weakening, narrowing and destruction of the blood vessels as notoriously seen in peripheral vascular disease. Early detection of this illness and management of diabetes are lifesaving factors in the treatment of peripheral vascular disease.
Because those living with diabetes are extremely compromised when it comes to peripheral vascular disease, it is important to look after the extremities most affected by diabetes such as the lower limbs and feet areas. This is where routine visits with a podiatrist become non-negotiable parts of diabetics’ care. Consistent monitoring and observation of any changes in the lower leg and foot area provide an indication of disease onset or progression. Podiatrists are trained to be aware of any of the accompanying peripheral vascular disease symptoms including discomfort, numbness, peripheral neuropathy, changes in the colour of skin, along with muscle pain and cramping with or without activity. Furthermore, podiatrists also perform tests that measure the amount of blood pressure in lower extremities, a direct diagnostic tool of peripheral vascular disease.
After detection of the illness has been made based on assessments and observations of a podiatrist, routine visits can help treat and prevent the progression of the disease. Podiatrists can help identify specific lifestyle changes that encourage blood flow and reduce stress on existing blood vessels. Common advice to treat and prevent the progression of peripheral vascular disease includes:
- Management of diabetes
- Smoking cessation
- Increased physical activity
- Incorporating a heart-healthy diet
Treatment and prevention of peripheral vascular disease are imperative to elongating life, promoting overall health and preserving extremities. Peripheral vascular disease is an increasingly common health problem that progressively claims the lives of people far too often. Those living with diabetes are among the most susceptible. Decreased risks of the disease are encouraged by working with podiatrists to receive the best care as it relates directly to diabetes and peripheral vascular disease.
With 1 in 5 Australians being diagnosed with this disease yearly, and a reported peripheral vascular-related amputation occurring every three hours, treatment and prevention of this disease is essential.
Make an appointment with a podiatrist today to stay ahead of peripheral vascular disease. With proper care and treatment, this illness doesn’t have the power to claim lives as it so notoriously has. Become proactive and take control of your health; book an appointment with a podiatrist today!
Suncoast Podiatry on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland are experts in preventative foot care for diabetes and in both treatment and prevention of peripheral vascular disease.