How is PAD treated?
Treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD) focuses
on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression
of the disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise and
claudication medications are enough to slow the progression
or even reverse the symptoms of PAD.
Regular physical activity is often an effective treatment
for PAD symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a program
of supervised exercise training, also known as cardiac
rehabilitation. You may have to begin slowly, but simple
walking regimens, leg exercises and treadmill exercise
programs can ease symptoms.
When PAD causes pain while walking, the exercise
program takes that into account — alternating activity and
rest in intervals to build up the amount of time you can walk
before the pain sets in. Other exercises such as upper body
ergometry (using a machine built for you to pedal with your
arms), cycling and pain-free or low-intensity walking can
also improve walking and function.
It’s best if this exercise program is undertaken in a
rehabilitation center and monitored. But if it isn’t possible
to go to a rehabilitation center, your healthcare professional
may recommend a structured community or home-based
program that’s best suited to your situation.
Tobacco smoke is a major risk factor for PAD and for
heart attack and stroke. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand
smoke. It will help to slow the progression of PAD and other
Many PAD patients have elevated cholesterol levels.
A diet low in saturated and trans fat can help lower blood
cholesterol levels, but cholesterol-lowering medication may
be necessary to maintain the proper cholesterol levels.
Working with a coordinated healthcare team and making
the lifestyle changes necessary to best manage diabetes may
help reduce limb-related complications.
You may be prescribed high blood pressure
medications and/or cholesterol-lowering medications.
It’s important to make sure that you take the medication
as recommended by your healthcare professional. Not
following directions increases your risk for PAD, as well as
heart attack and stroke.
In addition, you may be prescribed medications to help
prevent blood clots.
Those with PAD should have an annual flu vaccination.
For a minority of patients, the above recommendations
and treatments aren’t enough, and minimally invasive
treatment or surgery may be needed. Visit heart.org
for more information on surgeries and procedural
interventions for treating PAD.
Excerpted and adapted from Heart.org; visit for more information about
peripheral artery disease.
activity or supervised
training are often
for PAD symptoms.