You may be able to improve your PAD by making lifestyle changes. For instance, quitting smoking, getting exercise, and improving your diet may help a lot.
Unfortunately, sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. There are medications available to treat peripheral arterial disease, mainly by addressing different aspects of PAD, such as high blood pressure, clot-forming, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Different medications may also be prescribed to widen blood vessels and prevent blood clots, thus reducing the symptoms associated with PAD. Alert – You are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke if you have PAD.
Other treatments include angioplasty, in which a catheter is threaded through your blood vessels all the way to the problem spot. A balloon is inflated and pressed against the sides of the blood vessel to flatten the blockage and stretch the artery to increase bloodflow. A vascular surgeon/interventionist may use a stent (a metal mesh tube) to keep your blood vessel open.
Bypass surgery uses a blood vessel from another part of your body, or one made of synthetic material, to provide an alternate route for bloodflow around the blockage. The new vessel is attached above and below the blockage.
Or, your doctor may make use of thrombolytic therapy, during which he or she will inject a drug to dissolve a clot right at the site of the blockage in your artery.
The very best way to treat a disease is never to get it in the first place. And there’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk of developing peripheral arterial disease.
1) First of all, quit smoking. (If you smoke, that is. It’s a little difficult to quit if you’ve never started.) Smoking is the biggest risk factor for PAD.
2) Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can lead to significant damage of your circulatory system.
3) Get moving. Exercising even 30 minutes three times a week can help out a lot, improving your bloodflow and making your heart stronger. (With any luck, you may get really enjoy playing racquetball, or walking around your neighborhood, or doing jumping jacks on your trampoline while singing the national anthem, or whatever the heck it is you and your doctor feel is a good exercise for you.) Keep in mind, you will want clearance from your podiatrist prior to undertaking any significant increase in activity.
4) Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in healthy ranges. Think of it as keeping the gunky hair clogs out of your own bodily plumbing system.
5) Keep your weight in a healthy range. Obesity is a factor in a lot of diseases, and PAD is definitely included on that list.
Fortunately, there’s a lot that can be done to treat peripheral arterial disease and increase your chances of a long, healthy life. You will note, however, that these things require action on your part. If you are at risk for or already have PAD you can do something about it now! Good luck.