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Peripheral Artery Disease

Treating P.A.D.

A man and woman walking on the beach

As part of lifestyle changes, people with P.A.D. should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week.

Treatment for P.A.D. is designed to reduce a patient’s symptoms, prevent complications, and improve
quality of life. It may include lifestyle changes, medicines, or surgery.

Lifestyle Changes

P.A.D. treatment often includes making long-lasting lifestyle changes. If you have P.A.D., or are aiming to lower your risk, your healthcare provider may prescribe one or more of the following:

  • Quit smoking. Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit. Consult with your healthcare provider to develop an effective cessation plan and stick to it.
  • Lower your numbers. Work with your healthcare provider to correct any high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Be sure to include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Get moving. Make a commitment to be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, work with your healthcare provider to develop a supervised weight loss plan.

P.A.D. Glossary

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI)
    A simple test that can be used to diagnose P.A.D. The ABI compares blood pressure in the ankle with blood pressure in the arm to see how well blood is flowing.
  • Atherosclerosis
    The buildup of plaque on the artery walls, also referred to as hardening of the arteries.
  • Critical limb ischemia (CLI)
    When blood flow is completely or mostly blocked to one or both legs in the advanced stages of P.A.D.
  • Intermittent claudication
    Cramping pain and weakness in the legs and especially the calves on walking that disappears after rest and is usually associated with inadequate blood supply to the muscles.


In addition to lifestyle changes, your health care provider may prescribe one or more medications. These medications are used to:

  • Lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and treat diabetes;
  • Prevent the formation of blood clots that could cause a heart attack or stroke; and
  • Help reduce leg pain while walking or climbing stairs.

Surgeries or Special Procedures

If the blood flow in one of your limbs is completely or almost completely blocked, you may benefit from having a procedure or surgery in addition to medications and lifestyle changes. Procedures such as angioplasty and bypass graft surgery will not cure P.A.D., but they can improve the blood circulation to your legs and your ability to walk.

Clinical Trials for P.A.D.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is currently recruiting for several clinical trials, including ones on reducing P.A.D. risk factors, improving limb function for people with P.A.D., and catheter-based treatments of arterial disease, among others. For more information, visit Search for P.A.D. and clinical trials.



Read More "Peripheral Artery Disease" Articles

Millions Untreated for Peripheral Artery Disease / Treating P.A.D. / Other Causes of Leg Pain / Your P.A.D. Checklist

Fall 2011 Issue: Volume 6 Number 3 Page 23