Treatment for peripheral artery disease has two major goals:
Manage symptoms, such as leg pain, so that you can resume physical activities
Halt the steady progression of atherosclerosis through the body to lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Early management of peripheral artery disease can be regulated with lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and cutting out habits such as smoking.
If you have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, please seek out additional medical treatment. Your healthcare provider may be able to put you on a treatment plan that prevents blood clots, control pain, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Cholesterol-lowering medications. A strain, or cholesterol lowering medication can help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
The goal for individuals with peripheral artery disease is to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 2.6 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). If you have other risk factors for heart attack or stroke, such as extensive smoking or diabetes the goal is even lower.
High blood pressure medications. Your healthcare provider may also provide you with a medication to lower your blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers. The top number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure) and the bottom measures the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure).
Patients should strive for a reading that is less than 130/80 mm HG (millimeters of mercury). This is the standard for anyone with chronic kidney disease, coronary artery disease, or diabetes. Achieving this is the goal for healthy adults over the age of 65 and health adults under the age of 65 with a 10% or higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years.
Medication to control blood sugar. In patients with diabetes it is even more important to regular your blood glucose (sugar) levels. Your doctor will help to assign blood glucose goals and assist you in meeting them.
Medications to prevent blood clots. Because of the correlation of reduced blood flow to limbs and peripheral artery disease it is imperative to take steps to improve the flow.
Daily aspirin therapy or a clopidogrel (Plavix) can be prescribed by your doctor as treatment.
Symptom-relief medications. Drugs like cilostazol helps to increase blood flow to the limbs by expanding the blood vessels and thinning the blood. It targets the symptoms of claudication - leg pain - for people who have peripheral artery disease. Notable side effects of this medication include diarrhea and headache.
Alternatively, patients can be prescribed pentoxifylline. While the side effects of this medication are mild to nonexistent, it is notably less effective than cilostazol.
Angioplasty and surgery
In some cases, other methods may need to be explored in treating peripheral artery disease that is causing claudication, such as: surgery or angioplasty.
Angioplasty. A catheter is threated through a blood vessel to the affected artery. At the site a small balloon is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the wall of the artery while stretching the artery to increase blood flow.
A stent or mesh framework may be inserted into the artery to help keep it open.
Bypass surgery. A doctor may also create a graft bypass by utilizing a vessel from a different part of your body or a synthetic fabric. This allows the blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.
Thrombolytic therapy. Your healthcare provider may inject a drug into your artery to dissolve the clot that is causing the blockage.