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With an inability to walk, some patients with Artery Disease don't know the problem

Oregon Medical Group has found a way to combat nationwide doctor shortages

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - A disease is leaving some people without the ability to walk, and many of those patients didn’t even know they had the disease.

“This is the right leg and this is the left leg,” Dr. Manjunath Raju says while looking at an angiogram of a patient.

“This artery is kind of tapering down, it should be as smooth as this,” he says.

His patient was an active, middle-aged man who worked on his garden nearly every day, but that all changed a few months ago.

“He said, ‘doc’ I'm not enjoying my life, my life is kind of limited with all my activities where I'm having this constant pain in my legs; I can't do my activities,” he says.

Dr. Raju with PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend says the patient has Peripheral Artery Disease, PAD, which is a narrowing of arteries from plaque buildup in the arms or legs. But, most commonly found in the legs.

“Some blame it on their hip and knees and they say it's all their arthritis pain, that they're not able to walk,” he says.

But, after losing circulation in his leg, this patient, like most others, has to undergo surgery to unclog the arteries.

“You can see the stent here,” he says.

Now, the patient is able to walk again, but Dr. Raju says the disease was caught late, like many of the 10 million Americans suffering from PAD.

“Unfortunately, 50 percent of them don't have symptoms,” he says.

Some patients don’t have leg pain until the artery begins to close, which is a later stage of the disease. However, you can catch it early by being tested if you’re over the age of 50 and have either high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, leg pain or you’re a smoker.

If you have any of the risk factors, a simple blood pressure test could save your limb or even your life.

And, if left untreated, PAD could lead to a partial leg amputation, heart attack or even stroke.

“It takes several days to months to years sometimes to progress,” Dr. Raju says.

That’s why finding disease early and working on prevention could keep you from needing surgery in the future.

“Try to do some lifestyle changes, watch your diet, low salt diet, low fatty diet,” he says.

And give up smoking.

PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend will be giving away 60 free blood pressure screenings this month to anyone over 50 with one of the risk factors.

All you have to do is call PeaceHealth at 541-222-1982 to set up an appointment.

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