Have you been diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease? If you received a PAD diagnosis at Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute, your board certified cardiologist may have already covered your treatment options. This page covers a few of the PAD treatment options that may be available to you through Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute in Phoenix, Globe, and Tempe.
Disease Management & Self-Care
Peripheral arterial disease is closely associated with smoking, diabetes, and atherosclerosis in other areas of the body. Depending on the severity of your condition, your cardiologist may recommend that you make lifestyle changes in order to stop the progression of the disease. Here are a few things you can do for yourself:
- If you smoke, stop smoking. Smokers are at four times the risk for developing PAD when compared to non-smokers.
- Lower your blood cholesterol. You should try to get your LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL.
- Lower your blood pressure. Individuals with PAD should aim for a figure of 140/80 mmHg or lower.
- Diabetics, especially, should manage blood glucose. Keep your hemoglobin A1C test results at 7 percent or lower. (One in three diabetics over the age of 50 have PAD, which makes blood sugar management especially important in preventing and managing PAD.)
- Eat a healthy diet that’s high in fiber. Avoid cholesterol, fat, and sodium. Fat should account for less than 30 percent of your total caloric intake.
- Exercise regularly. Aerobic activity can improve your cardiovascular health. Learn more about exercising with PAD.
You don’t have to have PAD to implement any of these lifestyle changes. If you’re concerned about your risk for developing peripheral arterial disease, talk to your cardiologist about making healthy lifestyle changes.
Medication for Peripheral Arterial Disease
In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, your cardiologist may recommend medication for managing the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. While there are currently no drugs that provide a cure for PAD, the following medications may provide some symptomatic relief:
- Statins may help lower blood cholesterol, reducing the ratio of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
- Blood sugar controllers may be used to help patients with diabetes manage glucose levels.
- High blood pressure medications can help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Aspirin or clopidogrel may be used to prevent blood clots. This is especially important for patients with partially blocked arteries in the leg.
- Cilostazol may be used to improve blood flow in the legs and reduce pain while walking. Pentoxifylline is a less effective alternative that may be more suitable for some patients.
Angioplasty & Stent Placement for PAD
For some patients with peripheral arterial disease, an interventional cardiology procedure may be necessary in addition to medication and diet/lifestyle changes. One of the most common treatments for PAD is angioplasty and stent placement. This procedure is used to open up occluded (blocked) arteries in the legs, allowing for healthy blood flow. Many patients may see improvement with just one balloon angioplasty.
Dr. Mansour Assar explains angioplasty and stent placement in patients with peripheral arterial disease.
During your angioplasty procedure, your cardiologist may make a small incision near the groin region. A small catheter (thin, flexible tube) is inserted into the femoral artery in the groin. The catheter is threaded through the body’s arterial system until it reaches the site of the blockage in the leg.
Once in place, a small balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated. This balloon presses plaque in the artery against the arterial wall. Once the plaque has been compressed, increased blood flow through the artery should be possible. Depending on how severe the plaque buildup is, your cardiologist may also place a small metal mesh tube (known as a stent) inside the artery. This mesh tube expands from within the blood vessel, holding it open and allowing for long-term improvements in blood flow.
It’s important to note that angioplasty and stent placement is not a “cure” for peripheral arterial disease. This procedure does not address the cause of the disease; it only addresses the effects (plaque buildup). For patients who want to prevent future atherosclerosis, it’s important to follow through with the recommended diet/lifestyle changes and medications recommended by your cardiologist.
For more information, contact Advanced Heart and Vascular Institute in Phoenix, Globe, and Tempe, AZ at 602-507-6002.