In this post, we’ll continue our blog series by examining the various treatments for treating peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Before we delve into the various medical treatment options for PAD, we must point out the importance of taking control of your own health. If you’re suffering from diabetes, this means that you must carefully monitor your blood sugar levels. If you’re a smoker, we cannot stress the importance of doing everything in your power to quit the habit. PAD is very common among smokers, and smoking only exacerbates the effects of the condition.
Additionally, we strongly encourage regular exercise as a means of treatment—it increases blood flow to your legs and can actually alleviate symptoms. For some, exercise may be painful; however, you can often work your way up to a level of exercise that’s extremely beneficial as well as tolerable.
Medication may be necessary to offset the effects of PAD and lower the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Antiplatelets affect blood platelets, causing them to be less likely to stick together to form blood clots. One of the most common antiplatelets is aspirin.
Anticoagulants prevent blood clotting, but must be monitored carefully for side effects. Two examples of anticoagulants are heparin and warfarin.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs have also proven to be effective in preventing heart attacks and stroke. Additionally, they can improve atherosclerosis and alleviate painful symptoms resulting from claudication. Statins and niacin are both examples of cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Angioplasty & Surgery
Many times, PAD patients require treatments such as angioplasty or surgery. As we described in our last blog post, angioplasty involves the insertion of a catheter into the groin area and then into the narrowing arteries. Partially blocked arteries can be opened through the insertion of a tiny stent or balloon.
For patients with more severe instances of PAD, more invasive means of surgery may be necessary, such as endarterectomy, which removes the buildup of plaque within the affected arteries. Bypass surgery may also be performed, which involves the replacement of blocked arteries with a graft. This encourages blood flow to move around the narrowed or blocked arteries.
If you have questions on any of these procedures or treatments, please be sure to let us know in the comments.
About Gregory Robertson, MD:
Dr. Robertson specializes in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory. Some of his areas of clinical interest include atherosclerosis, cardiac catheterization, cardiovascular disease, valve disease, and peripheral artery disease. Dr. Robertson holds an organizational leadership membership at The American College of Cardiology, and has contributed to multiple publications in his field.
About Ravi Veeraswamy, MD:
Dr. Veeraswamy specializes in surgery and vascular surgery, and has been practicing with Emory since 2006. Some of his areas of clinical interest include aortic aneurysm, carotid endarterectomy, peripheral arterial and vascular disease, and vascular surgery. Dr. Veeraswamy had major or recent publications in the Washington University Manual of Surgery, Vascular and Endovascular Challenges, and the Annals of Vascular Surgery.