A Sigh of Relief
When the Problem is Your Arteries, Not Your Feet
It started slowly, as a pressure in her right leg when she was walking. But it grew into a debilitating pain that stumped Geraldine Cohen’s doctors in Vermont and hindered her ability to get around and take part in activities that she once enjoyed.
“You don’t realize how much you walk, until you can’t,” recalls the 68-year-old retired steel industry businesswoman. “Whether it was shopping or golfing or going upstairs, it got to the point where I would walk just a few feet and had to stop until the pain subsided.”
At first, Mrs. Cohen was told her pain was plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition caused by an injury to the ligament-like band running from the heel to the ball of the foot. She continued to suffer from the unrelenting pain for more than three years, while consulting additional spine and vascular specialists.
Finally, they suspected the real cause of her pain: peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. What had been ailing her was actually a common vascular problem. PAD is a blockage of the arteries in the arms or legs that is caused by a buildup of plaque. When blood to the leg is blocked, you get leg pain called claudication.
Her second plan of attack? She went online to find out who U.S. News & World Report recommended. “I wanted to be diagnosed and, if necessary, treated at #1,” she says.
Her research led her to the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic in August 2007, where the diagnosis of PAD was unquestionably confirmed. Before consenting to an invasive procedure she opted to try an aggressive exercise program and medication. Both proved unsuccessful.
In June 2008. Leslie Cho, MD, Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center, performed an angioplasty, an interventional procedure to clear the blocked vessel. She then placed a stent to support the cleared vessel and keep it open.
The improved blood flow eliminated her symptoms completely. And a recent check-up with Cleveland Clinic vascular medicine specialist Douglas Joseph, DO, RVT, who she will continue seeing annually for routine follow-ups, also confirmed what her relief already told her – all is well.
“I recommend Cleveland Clinic to everyone I know,” says Mrs. Cohen, who is now pleased to report that she’s been getting around just fine and is exercising three times a week at Curves and using her treadmill in between. “I just never thought I would have a love affair with my treadmill, but I do,” she says with a laugh.
> Know the warning signs for PAD
If you need more information, contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.