April 2, 2009
Your story "Study Questions Screening for Leg Vessel Blockages," published March 16, sheds light on a very important health care issue, as these types of blockages can lead to amputation and might actually be signs of potentially deadly health problems.
When blood flow to the legs is severely reduced, people with Peripheral Arterial Disease, P.A.D., may have pain when walking, become disabled, or even experience problems that can lead to amputation. Hardened arteries in the legs can also be indicators of a much more life-threatening problem; hardened and narrowed arteries to the heart and the brain. This is why people with P.A.D. are at high risk for having a heart attack or a stroke.
Among other lifestyle changes, one way to help prevent P.A.D. is through regular exercise like walking for 30 minutes at least three or four times per week.
People who have pain, heaviness, or cramps in their legs may wish to ask their health care provider to refer them to a special PAD exercise program. These programs often require that the person exercise into the point of pain for 30 - 50 minutes, three or more times a week. Programs like these can help the person with PAD make lifestyle changes to enable them to walk with less or no pain at all.
Physical therapists are able to screen for this disorder and provide treatment to reduce PAD symptoms and the likelihood of skin wounds and amputation.
The American Physical Therapy Association is a member of the P.A.D. Coalition, an alliance of leading health organizations, vascular health professional societies, and government agencies that seek to raise awareness of lower extremity P.A.D .
To learn more about physical therapy and to find a physical therapist in your area, please visit www.moveforwardpt.com.
Jennifer L. Rondon
Associate Director, Public Relations
American Physical Therapy Association