Peripheral Artery Disease: Treatment

If you've been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease (PAD), take care of your heart! You can do a lot to lower your risks for stroke and heart disease.

Treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes. Healthier habits always help. Become more physically active, eat a balanced diet and, if necessary, shoot for a healthier weight. You can improve your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. If you smoke, quit! Schedule regular medical checkups so you can address risk factors promptly—before PAD progresses.

Medication. Medicines also can help. Drugs can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce your risk of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup that can lead to PAD) reduce high blood sugar (which can damage blood vessels) and reduce blood pressure. Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe drugs to ease leg pain or help prevent blood clots from forming.

Procedures or surgery. Procedures can help improve blood circulation to your legs and make it more comfortable to walk or exercise. In angioplasty, a balloon at the end of a thin tube is inserted into the affected artery and inflated to open up the blocked area. Alternatively, a small spring (stent) may be used. In bypass graft surgery, the surgeon reroutes blood flow around the blocked artery, using a blood vessel taken from another location in your body.

Routine monitoring. If you have PAD you have a higher than normal risk for stroke and heart disease. You also have the potential to develop serious leg problems, such asgangrene (tissue death). See your healthcare provider regularly for tests that provide valuable health updates.

It's important to take any medications your doctor has prescribed exactly as recommended. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.