Limerick medical experts take to Ploughing to highlight peripheral artery disease

Fintan Walsh

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Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Limerick medical experts take to Ploughing to highlight peripheral artery disease

Grainne Buicke, Vascular Physiologist; Marilyn McDonagh, Senior Podiatrist, Mr Tony Moloney, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and Pamela Ryan, Vascular Clinical Nurse Specialist

FIFTEEN patients have undergone amputations at University Hospital Limerick due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD) this year alone. 

That is according to experts at UHL who will be holding a stand at this week's National Ploughing Championships, to create awareness of the serious condition. 

PAD is a condition where blood flow to the legs and feet is significantly reduced, thus increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Pamela Ryan, Vascular Clinical Nurse Specialist, at UHL, said they are delighted to be exhibiting at this year's National Ploughing Championships. 

“An experienced multidisciplinary team will be travelling, including consultant vascular surgeons, specialist nurses, vascular physiologist, podiatrist and staff who are engaged in researching what is a significant and growing condition.”

“Peripheral artery disease occurs when extra cholesterol and other fats circulating in the blood collect – in the form of plaque – in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to your limbs. It is the narrowing of the arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head. PAD is most common in the arteries to the pelvis and legs. Just like clogged arteries in the heart, clogged arteries in the legs mean you are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” Ms Ryan explained.

Ms Ryan added that many people who experience common symptoms such as pain or cramping in the legs often do not report them, supposing the symptoms to be a sign of ageing. These symptoms often occur when people are out walking, exercising or climbing stairs.

“Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve your quality of life; help you keep your independence and mobility; reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation and even death. What we are saying to people is to take some time to learn more about PAD and to ask your healthcare provider to check your risk,” Ms Ryan said.

Risk factors for PAD include smoking, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and physical inactivity.

Diagnosis usually begins by taking a medical history and physical examination including palpation of peripheral pulses. A simple test called the ABPI (ankle brachial pressure index) can also be undertaken and this compares blood pressure in your ankle to that in your arms. This screening test will be performed by members of the UHL team at the Ploughing Championships as part of the awareness campaign.

Management and treatment of PAD entails or combines three main approaches: making lifestyle changes to lower your risk; taking medications such as statins and surgical intervention.

Prof Eamon Kavanagh, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, UL Hospitals Group, commented: “ We want to raise awareness around PAD with the dual aim of reducing amputation rates and improving quality of life and the National Ploughing Championships are an excellent opportunity for us to do that.”