Aging & Health A to Z
Peripheral Artery Disease
Care & Treatment
Most cases of peripheral artery disease can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other conditions related to peripheral artery disease, your healthcare provider will work with you to closely manage and monitor these conditions.
Medications that your healthcare provider may prescribe include:
- Aspirin or other blood thinning medication is used to help prevent blood clots from forming and to aid blood flow through narrowed arteries.
- Cilostazol is a medication that may be used to help improve leg pain and increase walking distance.
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) are recommended in most patients with peripheral artery disease. Statins can reduce symptoms and the need for surgery and amputations.
- Blood pressure medications if your blood pressure is high.
If you still have significant symptoms and difficulty with your daily activities despite exercise and medications, or if blood flow becomes severely reduced, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. The specific procedure depends on the location of the blockage, your other medical conditions, and your preferences for treatment.
Endovascular surgeries done inside the artery. Many people are familiar with angioplasty (inflating a balloon) or stenting (placing a small metal or plastic mesh tube) to open a blocked artery in the heart. These same procedures can also be used to open blocked arteries in the legs.
Similar to heart bypass surgery, bypass surgery can also be done in the legs. 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 (bypass) the blockage.
Updated: November 2016
Posted: March 2012