DEAR DR. DONOHUE: One of my favorite daily pastimes has been taken from me. It is walking. Until last July, I walked three miles a day. My husband and I enjoyed traveling to New York and walking around the neighborhoods. Those are a thing of the past, apparently, because I develop severe pain after a quarter-mile of walking.

You wrote about peripheral artery disease, and the symptoms matched mine exactly. I “ran” with it to a vascular surgeon, who said I had claudication and not PAD, and that nothing could be done for it.

Can you explain why I should hobble through life while others can be treated and be pain-free? – A.E.

ANSWER:
Claudication isn’t an illness. It’s the No.1 symptom of peripheral artery disease. It’s leg pain, quite often calf pain, that comes on while walking and stops upon resting. It’s a sign that one of the leg arteries is clogged.

I can’t explain why you should hobble through life with it. There’s plenty to do for it. You can continue to walk, and are encouraged to do so. Stop when the pain hits. Start again when it leaves. Work toward 30 minutes of walking every day, not counting the rest stops.

Medicines can be a big help. Pletal, Plavix and Trental are the names of some of those used for PAD.

The same procedures used to unclog clogged heart arteries are used for leg arteries. Bypass surgery – substituting a graft for the obstructed artery segment – is one technique. Angioplasty is another. Angioplasty entails squashing the buildup with a balloon-tipped catheter. A catheter is a soft, flexible tube snaked to the obstruction through a surface blood vessel.

I don’t know why the doctor said what he did. A second opinion is worth your time.

The booklet on peripheral vascular disease describes this common problem and its treatment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 109, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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