Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery
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Questions every patient should ask their doctor
prior to signing a consent for vascular intervention.

Sponsored by the SCVS Ad Hoc Committee on Patient Advocacy.


  1. What is intermittent claudication?

    It is one of the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. It manifests as pain in the leg while walking. The pain usually goes away at rest and comes back with activity.

  2. What are the symptoms of PAD?

    The majority of patients with PAD are asymptomatic. The most common presentation, however, is pain in the leg while walking. The pain is different than disc disease or diabetic neuropathy by the fact that it subsides at rest and reproduces with activity. The pain may be so severe that it limits normal daily or recreational sporting activities. Advanced PAD will present pain at rest that keeps the patient awake at night or even foot ulcers (classically in diabetics with PAD)

  3. Who is are risk for PAD?

    The most important risk factors are smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). Continued smoking is also a risk factor of therapy failure and recurrent symptoms.

  4. Am I going to lose my leg?

    If you control all risk factors (smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia) then the chances of losing the leg is negligible for those with intermittent claudication. However, if your presentation is pain at rest or foot ulcer or if risk factors are not controlled then this chance is significantly increased

  5. What should I do to make it better?

    Control of risk factors is the key for a better outcome. Stop smoking, make sure HbA1C is below 6, treatment of high blood pressure, and treat high cholesterol, LDL and low HDL. Consult with your primary care and vascular specialist about medications and PAD and whether you need close follow up.

  6. Should I take Plavix?

    Plavix is a medication used to make the blood thinner. It works on the platelets (blood cells responsible for making a clot) and causes them to disperse instead of coming together. It is effective in patients with heart stents. Its benefit in PAD is marginal and you should ask your doctor if you need plavix in addition to aspirin.

  7. My dad lost his leg for PAD, are my kids going to be affected?

    PAD is neither genetic nor familial. It is completely dependant of individual’s risk factors and timely intervention.

  8. Can I leave it alone?

    As long as your risk factors are controlled, therapy is only needed if you have disabling symptoms. If you develop symptoms then you need to seek medical advice.

  9. Do I need a stent?

    Like the heart, stents are being used in the leg to treat blockages. You need to undergo a full vascular evaluation in order to come up with comprehensive plan on what would be the best therapy for you.

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