Peripheral Arterial Disease: Is Balloon Angioplasty Right for You?

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
July 19, 2021

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common circulatory problem characterized by a narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If you have been diagnosed with PAD, it means there is not enough blood flowing to your extremities, most likely your legs. The most common cause of peripheral arterial disease is a chronic buildup of fatty plaque in the affected blood vessels. This is known as “hardening” of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Treatment for PAD typically includes lifestyle changes and medication. However, in some cases, vascular surgery may be necessary to clear blocked arteries and restore circulation. 

What Is Angioplasty?

Angioplasty, also known as balloon angioplasty or percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA), is a minimally invasive vascular procedure doctors use to open narrowed or blocked arteries in patients with peripheral arterial disease. During this procedure, a catheter with a small medical balloon attached to the end is inserted into an artery and directed towards the location of the blockage. When the catheter reaches the blockage, the balloon is inflated to widen the opening and increase blood flow by pushing the plaque against the wall of the artery. In some cases, a stent may be placed in the artery to keep it open after the balloon is deflated and removed. This can help improve the long-term results of the procedure and prevent restenosis, which occurs when the artery becomes blocked by more plaque. 

How Balloon Angioplasty Can Help

Balloon angioplasty and stenting are two of the most common treatment methods for PAD without open surgery. The primary goal of angioplasty as a treatment for peripheral arterial disease is to restore blood flow in a clogged artery and increase the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s muscles and tissues. 

Angioplasty can also relieve intermittent claudication, which is a symptom of peripheral arterial disease characterized by muscle aches, cramps, numbness, or fatigue in the calf, thigh, foot, or buttock. Intermittent claudication can be triggered by mild exertion, such as walking up a flight of stairs or a steep hill, and angioplasty can help patients walk farther without leg pain than they could before the procedure. Often, balloon angioplasty is used in combination with other therapies to treat peripheral arterial disease.

Is Balloon Angioplasty Right for Me?

According to the European Society of Cardiology, roughly 10% of the world’s population have peripheral arterial disease. The prevalence of this circulatory condition increases with age. While many people with PAD are asymptomatic, others experience limitations in their walking ability and therefore have a reduced quality of life. 

Balloon angioplasty is an important treatment option for patients with peripheral arterial disease. The success of the procedure depends on a number of factors, including the size of the affected blood vessel, the extent of the blockage, and the length of the blockage. Generally speaking, angioplasty is most effective in widening larger arteries, arteries with short blocked areas, or arteries that are narrowed and not blocked.

Complications Related to Peripheral Arterial Disease 

Peripheral arterial disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis leading to stenosis (narrowing) or blockage of the major vessels that supply blood to the legs. If you have a hardening of the arteries in your legs, it is possible that the arteries in your heart and brain are also blocked, which increases your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. If you have been diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease, angioplasty can restore blood flow, reduce the risk of complications, and help you get back to your normal daily activities. 

If you are interested in learning more about balloon angioplasty as a treatment for peripheral arterial disease, reach out to South Valley Vascular today at (559) 625-4118 or visit us online to schedule an appointment.