|MARK GOODWIN, MD,
You're out for an evening walk and you get a leg cramp. Most likely, you'll ignore it. But if even a short stroll causes one or both legs to feel seriously achy and fatigued, you may be dealing with something more serious than your basic charley horse.
The pain could be due to a type of peripheral vascular disease in which arteries that normally deliver oxygen-rich blood to the legs aren't getting the job done. Plaque has built up in these arteries, either partially or totally obstructing blood flow.
Indian Head Park resident Sara (not her real name) had a 100 percent blockage in one of her iliac arteries, the large arteries in the pelvis that supply blood to the legs and feet.
"I was lucky if I could walk a block before the leg pain – and sometimes numbness – got to be too much," says Sara.
In May, Mark Goodwin, MD, medical director of Edward Hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab and interventional cardiologist with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group, performed an angioplasty on Sara to get the 65-year old back to her active lifestyle.
In this procedure, Dr. Goodwin threaded a thin balloon-tipped catheter into an artery and then to the blocked segment near Sara's hip. The blockage was removed when the balloon inflated. Dr. Goodwin then inserted tiny mesh stents to keep the vessel open.
Angioplasty doesn't cure the cause of blockage in the arteries but it usually provides almost immediate relief.
"I had the procedure on Wednesday and was walking around on Thursday," says Sara.
"With peripheral angioplasty it's especially satisfying because we see the patient's quality of life improve so quickly, and there are also cases where we're able to save a patient from amputation," says Dr. Goodwin.
For more information, visit www.edward.org/heart, or call (630) 527-2730 or (630) 527-2825.