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This Minimally Invasive Procedure Is Helping People With PAD Avoid Amputation

At Daniel’s routine foot appointment with Dr. Schultz, the doctor asked, “Daniel, are you walking daily?” Daniel replied, “I try to, but can’t walk as far, because of the pain in my calf.” 

Daniel’s walks had become uncomfortable as he frequently experienced a dull pain in his calf. Since Daniel was a type-2 diabetic, Dr. Schultz ordered a PADnet test for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

PAD is a chronic disease affecting 21 million Americans, including 1 in 3 diabetics 50 and older and 1 in 3 adults over the age of 70. As an African American, Daniel had an even higher chance of having PAD because it affects 37 percent more African Americans. 

The medical assistant, Cyndi, finished the test in 15 minutes. Cyndi told Daniel after the test, “I’ve sent the test to Dr. Chopra, a vascular specialist who has an office about 10 minutes away from here. We’ll call when we hear back.”

The next day

Daniel got a call the next day after Dr. Chopra read the PADnet test results. 

“Dr. Chopra would like to see you in person,” Cyndi said. When Daniel called Dr. Chopra’s office to schedule an appointment, he asked, “Do I need to go back to Dr. Schultz’s office to grab the test results?” Daniel was pleased to learn that Dr. Chopra already had everything he needed.

At Dr. Chopra’s office, where he is the founder of MIMIT Health Care, Daniel’s legs were evaluated further with ultrasound. Then he met with Dr. Chopra.

“Daniel, based on these test results, and what my technician found while performing the ultrasound today, you have PAD, which means plaque is building up in the walls of the arteries,” Dr. Chopra shared. “Now, you may be just experiencing pain while walking, but eventually, your legs will hurt all the time, will progress to a wound, and finally may need an amputation . This disease is also increasing the risk of a stroke, amputation, or heart attack.”

100,000 lower limb amputations occur annually in the United States due to PAD, and about half of those who have an amputation will die within the year and 70 percent die within three years. The two-year cost of an amputation is over $91,000, while the lifetime cost to a patient is $500,000. 

As an African-American, Daniel’s chance of having to get an amputation is increased threefold.

A better choice

Dr. Chopra explained to Daniel that rather than going to the hospital, by finding the disease early enough, he could perform a non-surgical (or minimally invasive) endovascular outpatient procedure at MIMIT. He could come in at 8 a.m. and be out before lunch.

Daniel had his sister drive him to his appointment on the day and he was back in her car by noon, just as Dr. Chopra said. 

After his procedure, he tried to resume his daily walks and found that the pain was gone! And after Dr. Chopra told him that smoking is a major risk factor for PAD, Daniel resolved to quit smoking. Daniel thanked Dr. Schultz at his next nail-trimming appointment. 

By making this positive lifestyle choice, Daniel is not only decreasing his PAD risk by 80 percent, he is also reducing his risk of cardiovascular disease. Three-quarters of patients with PAD have heart disease, but many don’t receive treatment for PAD until after the heart disease is discovered. In fact, patients with PAD are six times more likely to die from heart disease than those without PAD.

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