Treatments for peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) include lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery or procedures.
The overall goals of treating P.A.D. include reducing symptoms, improving quality of life, and preventing complications. Treatment is based on your signs and symptoms, risk factors, and results from a physical exam and tests.
Treatment often includes making long-lasting lifestyle changes, such as:
Follow a healthy eating plan that's low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium (salt). Include fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products in your diet. If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines to:
Your doctor may recommend bypass grafting surgery if blood flow in your limb is blocked or nearly blocked. For this surgery, your doctor uses a blood vessel from another part of your body or a man-made tube to make a graft.
This graft bypasses (that is, goes around) the blocked part of the artery. The bypass allows blood to flow around the blockage.
This surgery doesn't cure P.A.D., but it may increase blood flow to the affected limb.
Your doctor may recommend angioplasty (AN-jee-oh-plas-tee) to restore blood flow through a narrowed or blocked artery.
During this procedure, a catheter (thin tube) with a balloon at the tip is inserted into a blocked artery. The balloon is then inflated, which pushes plaque outward against the artery wall. This widens the artery and restores blood flow.
A stent (a small mesh tube) may be placed in the artery during angioplasty. A stent helps keep the artery open after angioplasty is done. Some stents are coated with medicine to help prevent blockages in the artery.
Atherectomy (ath-eh-REK-to-me) is a procedure that removes plaque buildup from an artery. During the procedure, a catheter is used to insert a small cutting device into the blocked artery. The device is used to shave or cut off plaque.
The bits of plaque are removed from the body through the catheter or washed away in the bloodstream (if they're small enough).
Doctors also can do atherectomy using a special laser that dissolves the blockage.
Researchers are studying cell and gene therapies to treat P.A.D. However, these treatments aren't yet available outside of clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Peripheral Arterial Disease, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
November 20, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
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