For Leroy Sanders, a retired Army Veteran, running was a part of his life. But, two years ago Sanders began experience leg pain that left him unable to walk any distance. He was then introduced to the vascular surgeon Dr. Carmen Piccolo.
What Sanders learned was that he was suffering from peripheral artery disease, which causes a fatty buildup in the inner walks of the arteries and causes discomfort when doing activities like walking or exercising.
The pain, called intermittent claudication, is a result of the signals that the muscles send the brain letting you know that there isn’t enough blood flowing to your legs to support the increased demand.
For most people, treatment includes changes in his or her lifestyle such as quitting smoking, managing diabetes, managing blood pressure, a diet low in saturated and trans fat, and participating in regular exercise.
“Supervised exercise rehabilitation is considered a primary treatment for people with PAD with claudication,” Piccolo said. “Walking helps build up other arteries in the legs and allows people to be able to walk further with less pain.”
Sanders started his therapy by walking for 25 minutes, three days a week, increasing his speed, incline, and time spent walking each week.
“Whenever I was walking on the treadmill, I could feel the pain, but it never got so severe that I had to stop,” Sanders said.
After just two months of being enrolled in the program, Sanders could walk around as he pleased, pain free.
“Before the Vascular Rehabilitation Program, I couldn’t even walk more than half a block,” Sanders said. “Now I walk around the block at my home.”
“I knew I needed to do something for the pain I had been experiencing. I needed help. I had eliminated all the things I liked to do: tennis, basketball and, of course, running was out of the question. This Vascular Rehabilitation Program has worked for me. On the days I am not in rehab, my wife, Martha, and I will go walking. And I will continue to keep my walking habits even after I graduate from the program.”
Piccolo believes that each patient with PAD can improve their walking ability with the Vascular Rehabilitation Program.
“The main goal of the program is to improve vascular health and reduce symptoms of PAD,” he said. “This goal is accomplished through the promotion of exercise adherence, continuing education and lifestyle behavior modifications.”