Clogged leg arteries, or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects up to 20% of Americans 65 or older.
William Julien, M.D., medical director of South Florida Vascular Associates says, “As the population ages that number is expected to climb even higher.” Aging, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are the key risk factors.
PAD often occurs in the iliac arteries, the main arteries which carry blood from the abdominal aorta to the legs and feet. Often, the first sign of iliac artery disease is leg cramps or pain when walking. In its most severe form, PAD can cause painful sores on a patient’s toes and feet. If left untreated, the blood circulation to the lower extremities will diminish causing ulcers that can become dry, gray or black, and eventually gangrenous, which can lead to amputation of a limb.
67 year-old Frank Bartilotta was forced to retire from the grocery business, in part because of PAD. His quality of life was miserable and he was unable couldn’t do anything that required walking. He even had to sit in a chair to shower.
Unloading grocery trucks for years and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day took its toll. on Bartilotta. His walking capability was only a couple of minutes at the most.
His PAD was so severe, treatment required angioplasty and iliac stenting in both
“Treating PAD with stents is not new. We’ve been doing it more than 20 years, says Dr. Julien, but the technique and the stents are more durable and better constructed these days.”
Mounting research confirms iliac stenting is safe, highly effective and life extending.
Nearly 100-percent of all patients with PAD can be successfully treated. The procedure, which takes roughly up to 90 minutes and is performed with local anesthesia, is fairly simple and similar to placing stents in clogged arteries in other parts of the body. Most patients are usually up on their feet roughly two to six hours after the procedure and can immediately go back to normal activities.
In Bartilotta’s case, the iliac stents originally put in place by another doctor were too small. Bartilotta was referred to Dr. Julien who fixed the problem by doing balloon angioplasty to open up the stents wider, replacing normal blood flow to his legs. And it worked!
Bartilotta never thought he would be back to normal, but now he is able to do whatever he wants. He can walk a good 10-to-15 minutes at a time and it’s getting better all the time. Life is pretty close to back to normal. he even went on a cruise on the biggest ship in the world and was able to walk the entire length of the ship.Barlotta now swims again, goes to the gym, takes long walks and is able to resume his fulfilling active life as he once knew it.
If you have been diagnosed or suspect that PAD is your problem, take our survey to see if you are at risk and make an appointment at our Broward or Palm Beach office with one of our physicians to discuss the best treatment option for you.