Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Aspirin, Walking Can Reduce Leg Pain From Narrowed Arteries

Study Shows Aspirin as Effective as Pricier Plavix for Peripheral Artery Disease
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 22, 2012 -- Low-dose aspirin may be just as effective as the more expensive Plavix when combined with a walking program to treat leg pain that’s associated with narrowing of the leg arteries.

What’s known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD, can cause pain in the legs during walking because of decreased blood supply in the legs. This is known as intermittent claudication. This pain usually goes away once a person stops walking.

People with PAD are also at higher risk for heart attack or stroke. Treatment involves reducing pain and improving heart and blood vessel health by addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

In the three-month study, people with PAD participated in a one-hour-a-day walking program. The goal of a walking program for PAD is to allow people to walk longer without pain. Some participants took low-dose aspirin and others took Plavix, an anti-clotting medication.

After 12 weeks, those who took aspirin could walk pain free about a third farther and longer before it hurt too much and they had to stop, compared to before starting the program. There were similar gains seen among people who took Plavix.

The new study shows that the two agents are similar when it comes to pain-free walking. Low-dose aspirin is also much less expensive than Plavix. This may change when Plavix becomes available as a generic drug.

The new findings appear in theJournal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease.

PAD Raises Heart Attack, Stroke Risk

Tara Narula, MD, says low-dose aspirin is her “go-to” drug for people with PAD. She is the director of clinical cardiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “I am going to put them on aspirin because I am more concerned about their higher risk of stroke and heart attack,” she says.

Low-dose aspirin can help reduce these risks. She also stresses the importance of tight control of heart disease risk factors with her PAD patients. These include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The real problem with PAD is that many people are still not aware of its signs and symptoms. “It is under-recognized by patients and physicians. They don’t pay attention to the leg pain or think it is muscular or neurological and they blow it off,” Narula tells WebMD.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure