CHICAGO - Medical research indicates that African Americans and Hispanics who suffer from peripheral artery disease are twice as likely as the general populace to have an amputation of the affected lower extremity when treated for peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Donna M. Mendes MD, senior vascular surgeon at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt hospitals is the first black female board-certified by the American Board of Surgery as a vascular surgeon and also a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS). “Community education is so important when it comes to PAD,” said Dr. Mendes. “I work in New York City near Harlem and many of the patients I treat are African American and Hispanic. They are unaware that limb loss can occur because of what is termed “hardening of the arteries.” Patients often come to me late in the disease process with pre-gangrenous or gangrenous lesions, making it harder to obtain limb salvage.
“The number of amputations can be decreased through education,” added Dr. Mendes. “Although many of my patients carry a large atherosclerotic burden, learning about the risks of PAD and modifications to health can begin at an early age to help decrease PAD. The atherosclerotic burden consists of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cigarette smoking, hypercholesterolemia, a previous heart attack or stroke, and a family history of PAD.
Signs and Symptoms of PAD include:
• Painful cramping in your hip, thigh or calf muscles during activity, such as walking or climbing stairs (intermittent claudication) which cause you to stop
• Leg numbness weakness and foot numbness
• Coldness in your lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side
• Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won't heal
• Legs that change in the color or look shiny
• Hair loss or slower hair growth on your feet and legs
• Slower growth of your toenails
• No pulse or weak pulse in your legs or feet
Dr. Mendes said that patients can have positive impact on PAD prevention by creating good habits that include stopping smoking, choosing a healthy and low fat diet to avoid obesity, having proper cholesterol levels and maintaining blood pressure numbers. Exercise, even a moderate walking program, can help reduce their risk.
“It is not only my job, but everyone's job, to educate others and their communities about how to prevent PAD and other vascular diseases,” said Dr. Mendes. “Hopefully, even though they are a large disproportionate entity, African Americans and Hispanics can be helped to reduce PAD and amputations in their high risk group.”
Remember that your vascular surgeon is your complete vascular specialist. To find out more about the vascular treatments and procedures, as well as what vascular surgeons can provide for you, contact vascularweb.org. To find a board-certified surgeon in your area on the website, click on “Vascular Health.” Then select the first option on the drop down list and choose “Find a Vascular Specialist.”
About the Society for Vascular Surgery
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 4,008 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease.