Treatment options vary and depend on the overall health of the patient and the severity of the diagnosis. The physician should provide the patient with adequate information to help understand all options. The majority of intermittent claudication cases are treated without surgery. Multiple long term studies following a large number of patients with claudication demonstrated that only 1 out of 4 developed worsening symptoms. It also found that only 1 out of 20 patients would require an amputation. A treatment plan involves lifestyle changes and one or more of the following:
- Exercise Therapy
- Lifestyle Modifications
- Smoking Cessation
- Diabetes management
- Blood pressure management
- Foot Care
- Endovascular Therapy
- Vascular Surgery
How is PAD treated?
PAD can be treated with lifestyle changes, medicines and endovascular or surgical procedures, if needed. Since people with PAD are at high risk for heart attacks and stroke, they must take charge of controlling their risk factors related to cardiovascular disease.
These life saving steps will help to prevent and control PAD:
- Get help to quit smoking and set a quit date now.
- Lower your blood pressure to less than 140/90 mmHg or less than 130/80 mmHg if you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
- Lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol to less than 100 mg/dl. If you are at very high risk for a heart attack or stroke, your health care provider may recommend an LDL goal of less than 70 mg/dl.
- Manage your blood glucose to reach an A1C level of less than 7 and practice proper foot care if you have diabetes.
- Talk to your doctor about taking anti-platelet medicines such as aspirin or clopidogrel to prevent clotting.
- Follow a healthy eating plan to control your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose (for diabetes).
- Get regular exercise such as walking for 30 minutes at least 3 or 4 times per week. If you have pain or cramps in your legs, ask your health care provider to refer you to a special PAD exercise program. Also, talk with your provider about using medicines such as cilostazol to improve your walking ability.
For most people with PAD, these life saving steps may be enough to slow down the disease and even improve any symptoms. If needed, your health care provider can refer you to a specialist for procedures or surgery to treat arteries that are severely blocked and reduce symptoms.
Remember: Finding and treating PAD early can help keep your legs healthy, lower your risk for heart attack or stroke, and save your life and limbs.