Vascular disease can strike anyone, at any age, at any time. Although age and lifestyle are common factors, everyone is at risk. Learn from our patients’ experiences so that you or someone you love doesn’t suffer its devastating effects.
Betty Heck Story
Betty Heck was a vibrant and healthy 80-year-old woman. Sadly, her life ended too early when a simple foot sore led to amputation and death. “My mom had a zest for life like no one I’ve ever met,” says Heck’s daughter Tammy Leitsinger. “Except for diabetes, which she managed closely, and rheumatoid arthritis, she was in good health.” Betty was one of the thousands of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) sufferers who only exhibit symptoms when it reaches the advanced stage. This late diagnosis led to her death. Betty began noticing pain in her left foot, which she first attributed to arthritis. When a sore appeared, both her primary care doctor and podiatrist misdiagnosed it as ringworm and then nail fungus. Her daughter, who works in the medical industry and specializes in PAD awareness, recognized the red flags. “When she took her shoe off, I was stunned because she had a large, black necrotic ulcer on her foot,” says Leitsinger. Although it was a clear sign of severely blocked blood flow, her doctor said that procedures to address it were impossible. “He told me her vessels were like porcelain,” remembers Leitsinger. “He said she would need to have a below-the-knee amputation.”
Not long after her amputation, an infection gained ground and she passed away. Tammy is determined that her mother’s experience will help save others. “I promised her right before she died that this would not be in vain; early detection is critical,” says Leitsinger.