It's easy to brush off that pain in your leg, but it could be more serious than you think. Peripheral Artery Disease causes pain in the legs because plaque built up in the arteries restricts blood flow. Eight to 12 million Americans have the disease but only a quarter show symptoms, which can be as vague as leg cramping.
"Everybody knows if they have chest pain, they have to see the doctor immediately. But patients do have leg pains and they go years and years without informing their physician about this problem. And it ends up in a disaster at the end. There's many people who end up losing their leg with amputation," said Dr. Ayman Iskander, a St. Joseph's Hospital Interventional Cardiologist.
Thousands of New Yorkers lose their legs every year because of Peripheral Artery Disease. There are a number of options to treat the disease, including scraping the plaque out, using a balloon to push the plaque up against the artery wall or a stent.
A stent is a small metal net that expands to trap the plaque against the wall of the artery and then remains in blood vessel.
"This artery specifically is subjected to a lot of physical stress between torsion, flexion, compression, scar tissue forms in this artery more frequently than any other artery in the body," said Iskander.
That scar tissue can build up and restrict blood flow. But now, there's a new stent, the Zilver PTX. It's a medicated stent that reduces scaring.
"With this technology being available with this excellent and great result, I'm more likely to go first with that procedure," said Iskander.
Doctors say the new, medicated stent is a simpler, less invasive procedure and gives patients more options for treatment.
"It's usually a same-day procedure. The patient is back walking on the the next day, back to work in two to three days. There's always a Plan B and Plan C if needed, whereas, if you start with surgery and something goes wrong then you have limited options at that time," said Iskander.
Doctors say the stent may also work for patients who were too high risk for the open procedures.