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Treatment of PAD

The treatment of PAD depends on a wide variety of factors including:5

  • Severity of the disease

  • Location of the disease

  • Other prevailing diagnoses (i.e., diabetes)

  • Overall health

The primary goal of treating PAD is to restore proper blood flow and to prevent limb loss if the disease is advanced.  Today, physicians have many treatment options.  Your physician will determine which option is best for you.4

You've been diagnosed with PAD. Now what?

Remember, PAD is a lifelong disease.  In that sense, caring for your limbs never ends. PAD doesn’t go away, so the key is to manage it.  The basic rules include keeping your limbs healthy by making good lifestyle choices, following your doctor’s advice, and taking your prescribed medications.  This will help you have healthier limbs and reduce your risk for further disease.3

Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes.  These may include a healthier diet, an exercise routine, and a plan for losing weight. Adopting a healthy lifestyle has benefits for any stage of PAD.4

Care for your feet

If you have PAD, especially in combination with diabetes, you’re more likely to have foot problems.  Both PAD and diabetes tend to reduce blood flow to your legs and feet, so even minor cuts, sores, and blisters take much longer to heal.  Dry or cracked skin may give bacteria a chance to enter and cause infection.  Clean your feet and change your socks every day.  Look for cuts or infections on your feet every day, and be sure to see a doctor if you see any signs of cuts or infections.3

Exercise more

Cardiovascular exercise is an incredibly important lifestyle factor in helping prevent PAD.  While strength training workouts make your muscles stronger, cardiovascular exercise is a workout that makes your heart and blood vessels stronger.  Even just a brisk walk each day can make a difference.  

Ask your doctor or healthcare provider what kind of exercise is appropriate for you.3

Improve your diet

A healthy diet can help prevent plaque buildup, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels3 which may reduce your risk of PAD.2

Control your weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can help lower your cholesterol and prevent PAD.3

Quit Smoking

This is the #1 risk factor for PAD and makes you up to 25 times more likely to develop the disease.3

(The above recommendations have been associated with a healthy lifestyle. Always consult your doctor regarding the management of your diet, exercise, and weight.)3

Noninvasive and Invasive Treatments

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe you medications depending on the cause of your PAD.  These may include medications to help reduce your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, manage your diabetes, or help you stop smoking.1  You may also be prescribed “anti-platelet” or “anti-coagulant” medication if your doctor is concerned that you may have blood clots.5

Minimally Invasive Endovascular Procedures

If you have a narrowed or blocked artery, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive endovascular treatment.  During this procedure, your physician will gain access to your blood vessels by making a very small cut in your skin, and may then use specific tools to try to reopen the vessels and keep the blood flowing.4

The most common technique for opening a narrowed vessel is an angioplasty balloon. These balloons are inflated in a narrowed vessel and push the plaque against the artery wall to restore blood flow.6

Your physician may also choose to place a stent.  A stent is a small wire mesh tube that remains in the body after the procedure.  It acts like a support system and mimics the structure of an artery wall to keep the blood vessel open.6

If you have a total blockage of one of your vessels, your physician may use a specialized CTO (chronic total occlusion) device to reopen the blocked (occluded) vessel.  These devices are designed to break through the blockage in your artery and provide a path for other devices that restore flow.4


Vascular Bypass Surgery

Vascular bypass is another option if your doctor wants to treat a narrowed or blocked artery. This procedure bypasses the blockage in your artery by creating a path for blood flow around it.

The doctor will make a surgical incision near the blocked artery and reroute the blood flow by attaching an artificial graft (or one of your own veins) above and below the blockage.  This treatment allows blood to go around, or bypass, the diseased part of your artery.1

Additional Treatment Options

Additional treatments may be available for PAD and your doctor will review the best options for your case.  All of the treatments listed above have limitations, risks, and potential complications so make sure to talk to your doctor to understand what treatment options may be appropriate for you.1


References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-artery-disease/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20167509
  2. Let’s learn about vascular disease - Risk Factors. Retrieved from http://loveyourlimbs.com/pad-cli/
  3. Let’s learn about vascular disease - Risk Factors-https://loveyourlimbs.com/stay-healthy/
  4. PAD: What can I expect? (2013). Retrieved from http://loveyourlimbs.com/what-to-expect/
  5. Mohler, Emile R., and Alan T. Hirsch. 100 Questions & Answers about Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2010. Print.
  6. http://loveyourlimbs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Lutonix-035-Patient-Guide-S120586-r1.pdf (Lutonix 035 Patient Guide: Treatment of PAD)