Peripheral Arterial Disease

CirculationPeripheral arterial disease (PAD) refers to the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which occurs when cholesterol levels and/or scar tissue build up within the arteries. This causes the arteries to narrow and restrict blood flow.

Drug treatments

Your physician will recommend lifestyle changes in combination with the use of certain drugs such as antiplatelet therapy, statins and ACE inhibitors. Most of these medications help to lower cholesterol and control blood pressure. If you have PAD, you may be prescribed one of the following types of medications:
  • Medicines to help improve walking distance (Cilostazol and Pentoxifylline)
  • Antiplatelet agents
  • Cholesterol-lowering agents (statins)

Bypass surgery

Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside. As you age, your arteries can narrow or become blocked through a process called atherosclerosis, which means hardening of the arteries. During atherosclerosis, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries.

During bypass surgery, your surgeon reroutes the blood flow in the blocked or narrowed artery around the blockage using a graft. A graft can be a portion of one of your veins or a man-made synthetic tube your surgeon connects above and below a blockage to allow blood to pass through it and around the blockage.

Angioplasty and stenting

This minimally invasive procedure requires only local anesthesia and intravenous sedation (relaxing medications).

During angioplasty, a long, thin tube, called a catheter, with a balloon attached to the end is inserted through an artery. Once the catheter reaches the blockage or narrowing the balloon is inflated to widen the artery.

Sometimes, however, a stent is also required. A stent is a tiny metal mesh tube that is inserted to the point of occlusion (blockage). Once positioned, it is expanded to keep the artery wall from re-narrowing. The stent is left permanently in the artery to provide a reinforced channel through which blood can flow.

Learn more about peripheral artery disease, stroke, vascular health and quit smoking resources:
American Heart Association