Medically Reviewed by Carmen M. Piccolo, DO
Vascular Rehabilitation is similar to Cardiac Rehabilitation – but there are some specific differences in the causes that bring someone into each program. McLeod Vascular Specialist Carmen Piccolo, III, D.O. explains a unique Vascular Rehabilitation program and how it differs from a Cardiac program:
Here is a summary of Dr. Piccolo’s comments:
Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD as it’s commonly referred to, is a disease of blockages in the arteries of the arms and the legs. Most commonly, PAD affects the arteries of the legs. Some patients get pain, cramping or tiredness in the calves, legs or buttocks when walking, exercising or climbing stairs.
Unfortunately, end-stage PAD can lead to wounds or ulcers on the legs or the feet. It could lead to amputation. In America, approximately 10 million patients suffer from PAD. In general, the older you are, the higher likelihood that you develop PAD. In addition, there are several risk factors. Some of them are not in your control: getting older or being a male. Other risk factors you have direct control over. The biggest one is smoking. Other risk factors include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney disease and diabetes.
The difference between vascular rehabilitation and cardiac rehabilitation is that the cardiac program starts as soon as a person is treated for a heart related concern in the hospital and continues after they are discharged from the hospital. In a way, the two rehabilitation programs are similar, improving overall vascular and cardiac health.
The vascular program is designed specifically to help the blood flow to your legs, improve your overall quality of life, decrease your pain or tiredness and reduce other symptoms from the blockages in your legs.
The goal of the vascular rehabilitation program is to overall improve your vascular health. In addition, it helps improve your quality of life by decreasing your pain or tiredness you are having in your legs, decreasing your chances of needing more invasive procedures (such as surgery or angiograms) and to, hopefully, halt or reduce the progression of Peripheral Arterial Disease.
Most people don’t necessarily graduate from the program like cardiac rehabilitation. In general, the Vascular Rehabilitation program can be continued for as long as the patient is willing to participate. The life lessons and the vascular health lessons they learn in the program can be continued at home either after they finish the program or on the days they are not at the program.