Peripheral Artery Disease Patient Perspective
SUSAN: Welcome to today’s topic, How PAD Impacts Your Patients’ Lives. I am Susan from northern Colorado. In this video, we will cover the impacts of peripheral artery disease on patients, as well as their families and caregivers.
Many of us take for granted that we can relatively easily move from point A to point B—whether we are traveling up or down stairs, grocery shopping, getting from the car into a friend’s house or even navigating through a shop or restaurant. For patients with PAD, even these tasks can seem insurmountable.
Let’s get the perspective of a patient. I’m here with Betty, and she’s had PAD for about a year. Betty, can you tell us about the types of symptoms you have experienced?
BETTY: You bet I can Susan. The first symptom I experienced was leg pain. When I was walking around places like the grocery store, my leg would start to hurt and even tingle. At first, I thought it might be because I was over-tired or had somehow pulled a muscle or something since the pain went away when I stopped walking, but then it kept happening.
Then I figured it was just because I was getting older and that everyone had this type of pain. I didn’t know at first that it was PAD.
SUSAN: So Betty, did the symptoms impact your family in any way?
BETTY: At first, the symptoms weren’t as frequent and it didn’t make much of a difference. But as time went on and I wasn’t able to walk very far without any pain, my family definitely was impacted. I had to rely on help to even walk my dog!
I couldn’t walk up the stairs anywhere without pain, so I relied on my family to get things in and out of the basement when they were needed. We’d have to really consider our plans with friends in case there were stairs at their homes and decide if it was really worth the effort. In commercial buildings, I was always looking for an escalator or elevator if it was available—and often times, these are much further away than you expect and the additional walking would cause me pain, also.
And I often chose movie theater seats closer to the screen if it meant that I wouldn’t have to navigate any stairs.
Parking also became more of a challenge—we were always looking for the closest spot for everyday errands and even special events. My family members and friends went out of their way to even drop me off and pick me up at the door of a store, and I’d sit—if possible—and wait for them to park the car and join me.
If I was having a particularly bad day, with pain after walking only a short distance, we’d sometimes miss out on planned activities such as concerts, festivals or other events. Even when I did get to go, I was always looking out for the next place to sit down—and sometimes tell my family or friends to simply go ahead without me.
SUSAN: Betty, were there any other impacts that you noticed?
BETTY: I sure did Susan, I noticed that I was giving up activities that I liked—golf, bowling, church, and my service club—because of the walking that was involved. I really felt left out, and kind of angry that I had to make so many changes in my life.
I also felt guilty because I know that some of my past choices, like years of smoking, have put me at risk for conditions like PAD.
SUSAN: Betty, what advice would you give to someone who thinks they might have PAD symptoms?
BETTY: Susan, I would tell them to talk to your doctor or nurse like I did. When I was diagnosed with PAD, we decided on what to do together. For me, it worked to start with lifestyle changes to help get my underlying conditions under control. We’ll look at other treatment options if this isn’t enough.
Also, it has been helpful to talk with people about my experience—although it was tough at first because I was really embarrassed by my limitations. My clinic has a support group for patients—and I also talked with some friends at my service club about feeling left out of things. Everyone was very understanding and provided some great perspectives—and they made me feel better when I was having a bad day.
SUSAN: Well Betty, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. Understanding the impacts of PAD on patients, families, and caregivers helps all of us provide the best possible care and continue to work towards the best patient outcomes.
For other topics in this series, additional information and resources, please visit pcna.net/PAD. Thank you for joining us.
Funded through a grant from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that these forms include a sample of current clinical guidelines. However, clinical guidelines (federal, state, local, or those issued by clinical organizations) change over time, so the reader should remember to investigate any recent legal or clinical developments.