When people develop PAD, their legs typically don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with the demand. The most common symptom is leg pain when walking.
PAD may also be a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries. The prevalence of PAD has been increasing in recent years, affecting anywhere from 8 million to 12 million people in the United States.
Risk factors include being aged 65 or older, smoking, having diabetes, having hypertension or high cholesterol and a family history of cardiovascular disease.
CURRENT TREATMENTS: Treatments for PAD depend on the severity of symptoms and typically range from prescription medications to open surgical interventions.
For patients with end-stage PAD, limb amputation may be the only option. More than 100,000 limb amputations are performed each year because of PAD. The annual cost associated with amputations in the United States is about $13 billion.
STEM CELLS: Doctors are now using a patient's own stem cells to treat PAD and potentially save limbs. They place a needle into the patient's hip to remove bone marrow. The marrow goes into a centrifuge to separate the stem cells. Then, doctors inject the cells into the arteries and muscles in the leg.
"It creates new, smaller blood vessels that give blood supply to the limb," Randall Franz, M.D., FACS, RVT, a vascular surgeon from Grant Medical Center in Columbus, OH, told Ivanhoe.
In one study conducted by researchers from the Vascular and Vein Center at Grant Medical Center, six out of nine patients who received the stem cell treatment were able to avoid major amputation. Authors of that study concluded, "With eight (88.9 percent) of nine patients showing some level of improvement and amputation avoided in six patients, these short-term results indicate the use of BM-MNC (bone marrow mononuclear cell) implantation as a means of limb salvage therapy for patients with severe PAD shows promise in postponing or avoiding amputation in a patient population currently presented with few alternatives to amputation."
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Colin Yoder, Media Relations