Peripheral Artery Disease: Your Healthcare Team

If you've been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease (PAD), getting regular medical checkups to assess your health status is critical. This is especially true if you are over the age of 50, when your risk for PAD is higher.

A variety of healthcare providers can treat you—including your family doctor, internist physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. If your PAD is more severe, other specialists can help.

Primary care physician (PCP): The PCP is either a physician trained in general medicine, internal medicine, family practice or may also be a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. While many women view their gynecologists as their PCP, PAD is not a condition diagnosed or treated by most gynecologists. Your PCP can evaluate and treat PAD, or refer you to a specialist skilled at treating PAD.

Vascular-medicine specialist: This doctor is usually a cardiologist (heart specialist) who specializes in diseases such as PAD and atherosclerosis that affect the vascular (blood vessel) system.

Vascular surgeon: This doctor is skilled in performing medical procedures and surgeries that can repair vascular damage and treat PAD.

Interventional radiologist: This doctor uses imaging techniques to perform minimally invasive medical procedures that restore better blood flow in clogged arteries.

Podiatrist: A podiatrist, sometimes called a "foot doctor," specializes in the care of feet, ankles and lower legs.

Nurse practitioner: An Advanced Practice Nurse who can provide high-quality care and treatment to patients. They can diagnose and treat a variety of health problems and inform patients about lifestyle changes that can improve their health.

Physician assistant: Health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. They perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures.

Dietitian/nutritionist: This professional helps you make dietary changes that will reduce PAD risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

Smoking cessation expert: If you smoke and want to quit, smoking cessation groups and classes can help you be successful. Your PCP can also help with prescription interventions or referrals.

Nurse: A nurse can answer your questions about your treatment plan and offer guidance for following your doctor's recommendations.