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Treatment Options

Your physician will likely suggest a combination of lifestyle changes and medication to help you manage your PAD. If your condition is causing severe symptoms, you may be referred for surgery.


Lifestyle changes such as: quitting smoking, lowering high blood pressure, lowering high cholesterol levels, and lowering blood glucose levels if you are diabetic can help keep your symptoms in check. You should also talk to your doctor about an exercise plan that can help reduce pain while walking.


Medications are often prescribed to lower your cholesterol (e.g., statins); to reduce blood pressure (e.g., beta blockers, ACE inhibitors); to control blood sugar (e.g., anti-diabetic medications); to lower clotting risk (e.g., aspirin); and to increase blood flow to the limbs (e.g., cilostazol).

Procedures & Surgery

If you have severe symptoms, surgery may be necessary to supply more blood flow to the leg. Examples of surgical therapies include:

  • Balloon angioplasty is used to open blocked coronary vessels. During this minimally invasive procedure, a catheter (a long, thin flexible tube) is guided into the blocked artery and a tiny balloon is inflated to clear the way so that blood flow is restored. In some cases, a small mesh tube (stent) is inserted to keep the artery open.
  • Atherectomy is a blade or laser that is used in combination with a catheter to clear out plaque build-up in a blood vessel.
  • Stents are mesh-like tubes that can expand inside blood vessels and keep them open. They are used when angioplasty alone is not adequate.
  • Thrombolytic therapy is a clot-dissolving medication injected into artery to improve circulation.
  • Bypass surgery creates a detour around blocked blood vessel. To create this bypass, your vascular surgeon uses one of your veins (vein graft) or a tube made from man-made materials (prosthetic graft). The bypass graft is attached to healthy artery above and below the area that is blocked. This creates a new path for your blood to flow to your leg tissues and is particularly effective for extensive artery blockages. This restores circulation, which helps with wound healing.