Peripheral Arterial Disease


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What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?

As your PAD progresses, symptoms will occur more frequently and get worse. Eventually, you may even experience pain and fatigue during rest. Ask your doctor about treatments to help improve blood flow and decrease pain. Complications from undiagnosed and untreated PVD can be serious and even life-threatening. Restricted blood flow of PVD can be a warning sign of other forms of vascular disease.

The most serious complications involve the arteries bringing blood to the heart and brain. When these become clogged, it can lead to heart attack , stroke, or death. Early diagnosis is the first step to successful treatment and it can prevent life-threatening complications. Tell your doctor if you have any of the classic symptoms of PVD, such as claudication. Your doctor will also ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. The physical exam can include measuring the pulses in your legs and feet.

If your doctor hears a whooshing sound through their stethoscope, it could mean a narrowed blood vessel. The two main goals of PVD treatment is to stop the disease from progressing and to help you manage your pain and symptoms so you can remain active. The treatments will also lower your risk for serious complications. First-line treatment typically involves lifestyle modifications.

Peripheral Arterial Disease | Society for Vascular Surgery

Your doctor will suggest a regular exercise program that includes walking, a balanced diet , and losing weight. If you smoke, you should quit. Smoking directly causes reduced blood flow in vessels. It also causes PVD to get worse, as well as increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Significant artery blockages may require surgery like angioplasty or vascular surgery. Angioplasty is when your doctor inserts a catheter or long tube into your artery.

Peripheral Artery Disease: Mayo Clinic Radio

A balloon on the tip of the catheter inflates and opens up the artery. In some cases, your doctor will place a small wire tube in the artery, called a stent, to keep it open. If diagnosed early, many cases of PVD will respond to lifestyle treatments. One way to measure improvement is to measure how far you can walk without pain. With effective treatment, you should be able to gradually increase the distance. Talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms of PVD. Early diagnosis can help you and your doctor find ways to reduce your symptoms and increase the effectiveness of your treatment.

Collagen vascular disease is an autoimmune disease. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma are all types of collagen vascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. If you have signs or symptoms of peripheral artery disease, you likely will need additional medical treatment.

Your doctor may prescribe medicine to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and control pain and other symptoms.


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Cholesterol-lowering medications. You may take a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. The goal is even lower if you have additional major risk factors for heart attack and stroke, especially diabetes or continued smoking. High blood pressure medications. If you also have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower it.

A blood pressure reading, given in millimeters of mercury mm Hg , has two numbers. The top number in the reading measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats systolic pressure. The bottom number in the reading measures the pressure in your arteries between beats diastolic pressure. This is the guideline for anyone with coronary artery disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Medications to prevent blood clots. Because peripheral artery disease is related to reduced blood flow to your limbs, it's important to improve that flow. Your doctor may prescribe daily aspirin therapy or another medication, such as clopidogrel Plavix. Symptom-relief medications.

The drug cilostazol increases blood flow to the limbs both by keeping the blood thin and by widening the blood vessels. It specifically helps treat symptoms of claudication, such as leg pain, for people who have peripheral artery disease. Common side effects of this medication include headache and diarrhea.

An alternative to cilostazol is pentoxifylline. A graft is used to redirect blood flow around a blocked or narrowed artery. A graft can be a blood vessel vein from another part of the body or a man-made substitute graft. In some cases, angioplasty or surgery may be necessary to treat peripheral artery disease that's causing claudication:.

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Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

In this procedure, a small hollow tube catheter is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. There, a small balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the artery wall, while at the same time stretching the artery open to increase blood flow. Your doctor may also insert a mesh framework called a stent in the artery to help keep it open.

This is the same procedure doctors use to open heart arteries. In addition to medications or surgery, your doctor likely will prescribe a supervised exercise training program to increase the distance you can walk pain-free. Regular exercise improves symptoms of PAD in a number of ways, including helping your body use oxygen more efficiently.

How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed and evaluated?

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease. Many people can manage the symptoms of peripheral artery disease and stop the progression of the disease through lifestyle changes, especially quitting smoking.


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  8. To stabilize or improve PAD:. Stop smoking. Smoking contributes to constriction and damage of your arteries and is a significant risk factor for the development and worsening of PAD. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. If you're having trouble quitting on your own, ask your doctor about smoking cessation options, including medications to help you quit.

    This is a key component. Success in the treatment of PAD is often measured by how far you can walk without pain.

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    Proper exercise helps condition your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Your doctor can help you develop an appropriate exercise plan. He or she may refer you to a claudication exercise rehabilitation program. Section Navigation. Get Email Updates.

    What are the symptoms of peripheral artery disease?

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