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Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs - Overview

How is it treated?

Treatment for PAD relies mainly on healthy lifestyle changes and taking care to manage high blood pressure and cholesterol. You may need medicines to ease symptoms or to manage other health problems. In some cases, you may need surgery or a procedure called angioplasty.

When you have PAD, you have a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Making healthy changes can help reduce this risk.

Lifestyle changes

  • If you smoke, quit. It's one of the most important things you can do. If you need help, talk to your doctor about programs and medicines that can help you stop.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Follow an exercise program.
  • Manage your cholesterol and blood pressure if they are high. You may need medicines to help you do this.
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in a target range.
  • Lose weight if you need to, and maintain a healthy weight.

Your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program. In cardiac rehab, you will get education and support to help you make new, healthy habits.

Medicines and surgery

If lifestyle changes don't help, your doctor may prescribe a medicine that may relieve the pain when you walk.

For severe PAD, you may need a procedure called angioplasty or bypass surgery to open narrowed arteries or to reroute blood flow around them.

In rare cases, advanced PAD can cause tissues in the leg or foot to die because they don't get enough oxygen as a result of poor blood flow. If this happens, part of the leg or foot must be removed (amputated). This is more common in people who also have diabetes.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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