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How is Peripheral Artery Disease Treated?

Left untreated, PAD can lead to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure, heart disease​, heart fail​ure, or amputation.

Treatments for PAD include heart-healthy lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery or procedures.

The overall goals of treating PAD include reducing risk of heart attack and stroke; reducing symptoms of claudication; improving mobility and overall quality of life; and preventing complications. Treatment is based on your signs and symptoms, risk factors, and the results of physical exams and tests.

Treatment may slow or stop the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of complications. Without treatment, PAD may progress, resulting in serious tissue damage in the form of sores or gangrene (tissue death) due to inadequate blood flow. In extreme cases of PAD, also referred to as critical limb ischemia (CLI), removal of a part of the leg or foot may be necessary.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Treatment often includes making life-long heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as:

Surgery or Procedures

Bypass Grafting

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 synthetic 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 PAD, but it may increase blood flow to the affected limb.

Angioplasty and Stent Placement

Your doctor may recommend angioplasty 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

Atherectomy 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 perform atherectomy using a special laser that dissolves the blockage.

Other Types of Treatment

Researchers are studying cell and gene therapies to treat PAD. However, these treatments aren't yet available outside of clinical trials.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

PAD Treatment at The Heart Hospital Baylor

The primary goal of treating PAD is to reopen the artery to allow blood to flow. The vascular specialists on the medical staff of The Heart Hospital Baylor are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating PAD. Surgery is one effective treatment approach; however, the vascular specialists on the medical staff of The Heart Hospital prefer to take a minimally invasive approach first. Peripheral Angioplasty is one such new minimally invasive approach to treating people with PAD.

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