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Aching legs: Could be a sign of Vascular Disease

Thursday, December 29, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Richard C. Hsu, M.D.

Richard C. Hsu, M.D. 
Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
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Are you suffering from frequent pain, aches or fatigue in your legs? Does it interfere with your walking or bother you even at rest? If you have recurrent pain upon exertion, it may be a sign that your vascular system, the network of veins and arteries that carries blood to and from your organs, is not working well. Peripheral vascular disease—clogged arteries in the periphery or further reaches of your body such as your arms or legs—often is the cause of leg pain.

According to Richard C. Hsu, M.D., Ph.D., a fellowship-trained vascular and endovascular surgeon at Danbury Hospital, a diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease comes only after your primary care physician has taken a careful history and probably run some tests, such as a noninvasive arterial test (similar to a blood pressure test but done on the leg), a CT scan or an angiogram. “If you have symptoms, your doctor will want to rule out other nonvascular conditions that can lead to leg pain, such as arthritis,” he said.

“If your leg pain is a result of a narrowing of the arteries in your legs and the pain is not severe, your doctor may initially suggest taking steps to improve the underlying condition. Quitting smoking and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight through exercise may help alleviate discomfort, along with keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control,” said Dr. Hsu.

With endovascular surgery – in particular with minimally invasive techniques -- emerging as the standard of care for many aspects of vascular disease, Dr. Hsu and the comprehensive team at the Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center are constantly advancing the scope of vascular care at Danbury Hospital. The range of services includes angioplasty and stents to clear arteries, endarterectomy to remove the blockage and bypass to detour around the blocked area.

“We have successfully incorporated newer angioplasty and atherectomy techniques to minimize pain, restore function and save limbs for more patients compromised by moderate to severe vascular disease. The ability to provide multi-modality therapy to our patients is one of the distinguishing features of vascular surgery at Danbury Hospital,” Dr. Hsu explained.

When the Veins are to Blame

Sometimes it’s not the arteries but your veins that are at fault. Tiny spider veins that are visible on the surface of the skin are harmless, but varicose veins, which can show under the skin as gnarled clusters, can cause leg pain. Depending on the severity, your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Wear tight surgical stockings while standing to push blood deep inside the vascular system and encourage proper circulation
  • Elevate your legs when you rest
  • Undergo surgical removal or bypass to remove large clusters of varicose veins in the leg

Whatever the cause of your leg pain, do see a doctor. With today’s medical advances in vascular disease, you should be able to stop the ache. For more information vascular specialists and services at Danbury Hospital and our convenient office locations in Danbury and Ridgefield, call 1-800-511-7821.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

  • An integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
  • An agency for home care and community health services
  • A full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital
  • Emergency medical services
  • An occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management.  Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

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About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center.  The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience. 

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About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital is a Planetree organization dedicated to patient-centered care that nurtures every patient's body, mind and spirit.  The Hospital has an extraordinary tradition of warm and caring personal attention backed by top-notch physicians, world-class technology and the newest, most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. Your healthcare team of highly trained physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators is determined and committed to improving the health and quality of life of those we serve.

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