Cardiologist Helps Patient Walk Again After 5 Years

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Don Lycliter kisses his wife, Linda, hours after her life-altering procedure.

It’s been 5 years since Linda Lycliter, of Parsons, WV, could walk without staggering or holding onto her husband, Don.

“I couldn’t walk because both legs were blocked,” she said. “I fell over so many times. One time, I fell and broke my wrist. Another time I fell off my porch backward. It knocked me out. Before I had this problem, I was going 3 miles a day.”

Linda has a severe case of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a common circulatory problem that reduces blood flow to the legs and feet. It’s caused by the build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries, which makes them narrower and stiffer.

Symptoms include leg pain when walking or at rest. Left untreated, PAD can lead to severe pain, immobility, non-healing wounds and eventually limb amputation.

A couple of years ago, a cardiologist inserted two stents in Linda’s legs to open the blocked arteries so blood and oxygen could flow through them.

“The stents didn’t help,” Linda said. “I still couldn’t walk. I kept falling over, and everyone thought I was drunk.”

That changed after she came to see Dr. Wissam Gharib, an interventional cardiologist at Mon Health Heart & Vascular Center.

“I came over here (Mon Health Medical Center) in July,” Linda said. “Dr. Gharib put a stent in my right leg, and I could walk.”

When her left leg became blocked, he scheduled her for another procedure on Aug. 10. But this time he treated her leg disease through her wrist.

“He did the balloon through my wrist, so I know I’m probably going to run out of here,” Linda said.

Dr. Gharib and his patient Linda
Dr Gharib is the first in the tri-state area to perform the minimally-invasive radial procedure to treat peripheral artery disease.

While the procedure itself isn’t new, the way Dr. Gharib did it is. He used new extended length technology from Cardiovascular Systems Inc. to access the blocked lower leg artery through her wrist.

“Being able to go through the wrist is a lot safer and easier than the traditional method of going through the groin,” Dr. Gharib said. “Using the groin as the access point means we have to snake the catheter up, turn it around and then go back down to get to the blocked arteries. It’s more invasive and takes longer to recover. Using the wrist minimizes bleeding complications and allows patients, like Linda, to go home the same day.”

Dr. Gharib is the first site in the tri-state area to perform the minimally-invasive radial procedure to treat PAD. It’s a welcome option for not only high-risk patients like Linda, but also any patient with the condition.

Unlike treating PAD with stents, which are prone to fractures and high recurrence rates, the radial procedure typically allows patients to walk less than an hour after the procedure and go home the same day.

What causes PAD?

PAD is caused by the hardening of the arteries. It affects about 18 million Americans, most over age 65.

People are at higher risk if they have a history of:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease involving dialysis
  • Smoking
  • Stroke

Symptoms of PAD

The main symptoms of peripheral artery disease are pain, achiness, fatigue, burning or discomfort in the muscles of your feet, calves or thighs. Symptoms usually appear during walking or exercising, and subside after several minutes of rest.

In severe cases, you may have:

  • Painful cramping in one or both of your hips, thighs or calf muscles after certain activities such as walking or climbing stairs
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Pain or tingling in your feet or toes
  • Sores on your toes, feet or legs that don’t heal
  • Skin that looks dark and blue
  • Pain that worsens when you elevate your legs, and improves when you dangle them over the side of the bed

When to call the doctor

You should be screened for PAD if you are:

  • Over 65 years of age
  • Over 50 years old and have a history of diabetes or smoking
  • Under age 50 but have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors such as obesity or high blood pressure

To schedule an appointment with Mon Health Heart & Vascular Center, call 304-278-6562.