Patient applauds results and explanation of progressive PAD procedure

“He doesn’t explain with crayons and yellow paper, yet he talks at a level my wife and I both understand,” said Smith, a 71-year-old financial planner. “He explained the procedure. He was very complete, very open.

“After my procedure, Dr. Santeler spoke with my wife like it was a privilege, not a responsibility.”

Dr. Santeler and his colleagues at Carle Heart & Vascular Institute (HVI) use progressive interventional radiology and traditional surgical techniques to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and help patients with other vein and artery issues.

September is PAD Awareness Month.

PAD is narrowing of arteries caused by fatty buildup. The buildup reduces blood flow, often causing pain when walking and sores that won’t heal. Those who are 50 and older, smoke, are obese, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, history of heart disease or stroke, or are African American or Hispanic are at increased risk for PAD.

While Smith understands the non-surgical procedures that help him live with PAD, he still considers both the techniques and their results amazing. Dr. Santeler and other interventionists use imaging to guide their work—which includes stenting, balloon angioplasty and more—to restore blood flow.

“How they get all the tools they need to into that little artery, I don’t know,” Smith said. “But there’s no scar. I went to work the next day when they did my left leg.”

While treatment advances and statistics are hard to ignore, many people don’t know they have PAD.

  • About 8 million people in the United States have PAD.
  • At age 60, 1 in 10 people have PAD.
  • At age 80, 1 in 6 people have PAD.
  • 40 percent of people with PAD didn’t experience leg pain to alert them to the condition.

In summer 2013, Smith did experience pain and felt a burning sensation in his legs. Not wanting to miss out on the golf season, though, he waited until fall to learn what was causing his symptoms.

“I encourage people with leg or hip cramps, numbness or burning in their legs or feet, and leg or foot sores that won’t heal to tell their primary care physician or other doctor,” Dr. Santeler said. “Please don’t wait, though. Some people dismiss these symptoms as the usual signs of aging or the effects or either exercise or inactivity. That could be a mistake. We need to find out if they have PAD.”

While dissolving blood clots after the procedure on Smith’s right leg kept him at Carle Foundation Hospital for a few days in early December 2013, Smith started 2014 with well-managed PAD and without pain.

For more information about PAD signs and symptoms, please visit Carle.org and search for “peripheral arterial disease” or “PAD.”