Getting stuck in traffic may likely lead to development of blood clots and swelling of the leg or deep vein thrombosis that could be fatal in the long run.
Doctors from the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) and the Philippine Society of Vascular Medicine on Tuesday highlighted the possibility of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD) because of lack of movement on the legs or lower extremities of the body for long hours.
Dr. Jenny Beltran, president of Philippine Society of Vascular Medicine, said PAD can also be linked to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that may lead to blood clot or even death.
“There are certain situations, like riding a bus for four hours, which may develop these blood clots. Basta hindi natin ginagalaw ang ating paa nang matagal nagkakaroon ng mabagal na pagdaloy ng dugo pabalik sa heart [If there is no leg movement for prolonged periods, it could slow down the flow of blood back to the heart],” Beltran told reporters in a forum organized by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP).
Statistics from the Department of Health (DOH) ranked vascular diseases as the second leading cause of death in Filipinos.
Walking for at least 30 minutes, four times a week, is recommended to maintain blood circulation, Beltran said.
Health experts discussed the importance of awareness on PAD as well as seeking consultation in order for people not to have “killer legs” that can trigger the illness.
According to Beltran, PAD is a common circulatory problem wherein the blood flow is restricted in lower extremities of the body.
“The plaque build-up in your arteries might be depriving the muscles of sufficient blood supply,” she said.
PAD, especially its most common form, the peripheral vascular diseases (PVDs), are diseases in the blood vessels away from the heart and brain like in the legs, feet, arms, stomach and kidneys.
This is caused by the build-up of plaque in the arteries during prolonged sitting or standing that restricts sufficient blood flow in the muscles.
Beltran said such condition causes “crampy pain” (intermittent claudification) that sometimes makes it difficult for a person to walk and do other physical activities.
In layman’s term, she added, having PAD is like having dirt in the foot comparable to rust (kalawang), which requires cleansing and consulting a physician.
PAD’s common symptoms include painful cramps in the hips, thigh or calf muscles, sores on foot, reddish color of legs and itchiness.
Once PAD develops and remains undiagnosed, Beltran said it could lead to severe condition that may require leg amputation.
Is PAD dangerous?
According to Dr. Norberto Tuaño, chairman of the PHA council on peripheral vascular disease, PAD is dangerous since fatty deposits are building up in the inner linings of the artery walls.
Tuaño said such blockades (atherosclerosis) restrict blood flow mainly in arteries leading to the kidneys, stomach, arms, legs and feet.
“Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene of the legs and amputation of limbs,” he added.
Tuano said most patients with PAD have a higher risk of death from stroke and heart attack.
He added that PAD can be diagnosed through ABI (ankle brachial index) and other modes.
The disease can be prevented through lifestyle modification or through control of the risk factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Since lack of physical movement is one of the main causes of PAD, physicians also advised that it is best to try to some light physical activity by moving portions of the feet when caught in several hours of traffic, which is a common scenario faced by ordinary commuters everyday.
Meanwhile, physicians said workers whose jobs require long hours of standing or sitting can do some foot exercise to facilitate flow of the blood in the arteries to prevent the risk of developing the disease.
Tuaño explained that restrictions in the blood flow may also cause kidney failure.
He said patients may need to go through an angioplasty or a bypass surgery to open up the veins’ pathway.
“Most people with PAD can prevent it by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stop smoking, be physically active, control your diabetes and blood pressure, eat less saturated foods and avoid getting stressed, especially during traffic jams,” Tuaño added.
‘No garage, no car’
Malacañang also on Tuesday said a proposal of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) to legislate a “no garage, no car” policy as a measure to ease vehicle volume should be carefully studied.
According to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the proposal seeks to further ease traffic in Metro Manila.
“This measure aims to lessen road congestion and hasten the flow of traffic. This merits a serious study,” Coloma, a Transportation undersecretary in the first Aquino administration, said in Filipino.
“The important thing is to keep primary and alternate routes free from obstructions. No one should be allowed to park there,” he added.
It was Chief Supt. Arnold Gunnacao, director of the HPG, who made the proposal during a recent joint hearing of the Senate committees on economic affairs and public works.
“We should declare all streets to be no-parking zones so the streets will be open for the public,” he said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said he believes that Metro Manila’s traffic problem could be solved by addressing the three Es–engineering, enforcement and education.
Binay, who headed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority during the Estrada administration, added that the government should not be reactionary and should instead anticipate the problems on the road.
“…We will address the long-festering traffic problem by utilizing other modes of public transport [such as]the Pasig ferry and fix existing modes of transport particularly MRT 3 [Metro Rail Transit 3] so that commuters will choose to ride them instead of using private vehicles,” he said.
“…Gaps in infrastructure and power supply should be also addressed, particularly by implementing PPP [Public-Private Partnerships] programs that have not been acted upon [because of]analysis paralysis,” Binay told a forum in Quezon City.
WITH IZA IGLESIAS