Aging & Health A to Z
Peripheral Artery Disease
Care & Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, take these steps first:
- Stop smoking or using tobacco products immediately
- Change your diet to lower fat and cholesterol in your blood
- Begin a regular walking or exercise program. Exercise is by far the most effective therapy to improve the circulation in your legs.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions related to peripheral artery disease, your healthcare provider will also closely manage and monitor these conditions.
Medications that your healthcare provider may prescribe include:
- Aspirin, which is given as a blood thinner (anticoagulant) to help prevent blood clots from forming and to aid blood flow through narrowed arteries. Aspirin helps reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other conditions that are the result of blood clots or reduced blood flow.
- Other drugs may be used that help alleviate leg pain by dilating the arteries that supply blood to your legs.
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) can help keep additional plaque from forming in your arteries if your cholesterol levels are high.
- Blood pressure medications if your blood pressure is high.
If your PAD becomes serious or medications and exercise are not helping you enough, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure.
A catheter (tube) is inserted in the artery to create a larger opening for the blood to flow. A balloon may be inflated in the artery to open the blockage or a stent (a small wire mesh) can be left in the artery to keep the blocked area open.
This involves taking a blood vessel from another part of your body or using a synthetic tube and inserting it in the area where the artery is blocked so the blood can flow around the blockage.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012