Your Doctor Wants To Schedule Periphery Artery Disease Tests – What Should You Know?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a relatively common set of symptoms that often (but not always) follows from atherosclerosis. PAD can cause numerous symptoms, but the one that many people typically notice first is discomfort or pain in the legs following physical activity. These symptoms may improve after resting.

Note that PAD may include other symptoms, and some people experience no pain at all. Since this disease can present differently in different patients, doctors typically want to confirm their diagnosis before starting a treatment. If you've received a lab referral from your doctor to test for PAD, here are three things you may want to know.

1. Blood Tests Won't Confirm a Diagnosis

Your doctor may order blood tests if they suspect you are suffering from peripheral artery disease. However, these tests will not confirm their diagnosis. Unlike many illnesses, there isn't a single blood test that can confirm the presence of PAD. Instead, your doctor will use these blood tests to look for risk factors and related conditions.

Although these tests can't confirm that you have PAD, they are still a critical diagnostic tool. PAD treatments often focus on managing symptoms and treating underlying conditions, so your doctor must understand if you have any related health conditions. For example, your PAD may result from atherosclerosis, diabetes, or other conditions requiring medical treatment.

2. You Can Expect Some Physical Activity

Since peripheral artery disease often affects a patient's ability to undergo physical exertion, your provider will most likely want to conduct several physical activity tests. One simple test may involve walking a set distance or using a treadmill for a specific period. Your provider may carry out this test or order a lab to perform it, but the goal is to determine your symptom severity.

A similar test involves comparing the blood pressure at your extremities following exercise. This test aims to check for lower blood pressure in your legs compared to your ankles. In general, these tests are a good way to confirm a PAD diagnosis and to check for severity. Your provider may order additional tests for more information, depending on the results.

3. You May Need Imaging

Although PAD may have more than one cause, it's typically the result of plaque build-up and blockages in your arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Treatment and management plans may depend on the severity of the blockages, so your provider will often want to order some imaging to get a better picture of the underlying situation.

Imaging tests can also help your provider understand or rule out other causes of your peripheral artery disease. For example, an imaging test may reveal inflammation or injuries. These additional tests are often necessary so your doctor can clearly understand your disease and, ultimately, create a treatment plan that works for you. 

For more information, contact a local company like Desert Cardiovascular Consultants.