Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – also known as peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries -- is a disorder that occurs in the arteries of the circulatory system. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrient-rich blood from the heart to all areas of the body. PAD occurs in the arteries that carry blood to the arms and legs.
Medical management of PAD may include the following:
- Lifestyle Changes including quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercise.
- Management other conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
- Medications, to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
- Antiplatelet medication, such as aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix) may be prescribed.
- Cilostazol (Pletal), medication to improve symptoms of intermittent claudication.
- Good foot and skin care, to prevent infection and reduce the risk of complications. Aggressive wound care, such as negative pressure wound therapy, is necessary to treat wounds from poor circulation.
- A supervised walking program to improve pain-free walking distance in patients with blocked arteries.
More advanced PAD can be treated with interventional procedures or surgery.
Interventional procedures include angioplasty (to widen or clear the blocked vessel), angioplasty with stent placement (to support the cleared vessel and keep it open), or atherectomy (to remove the blockage).
Surgical procedures include:
- Peripheral artery bypass surgery - reroutes blood flow around a blocked blood vessel by creating a new pathway for blood flow using a graft
- Atherosclerosis endarterectomy - the open surgical removal of plaque from a blood vessel