Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a potentially dangerous condition caused by the narrowing of the arteries in your legs. This narrowing is caused by plaque buildup, which clings to the walls of your arteries, restricting blood flow.
When the diagnosis is PAD, you and your physician will develop a plan for treating the disease. This may include managing your risk factors with changes to your lifestyle, quitting smoking, exercising, and taking medication.
“Smoking poses the greatest risk for PAD. It is imperative to immediately quit using tobacco products,” says David Paolini, MD, vascular surgeon with Jobst Vascular Institute at ProMedica Toledo Hospital. “In addition, you can lower your risk for PAD by managing your diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol levels.”
You can lower your risk for PAD by managing your diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol levels
In some cases, treatment may also include a surgical procedure to clean out the buildup or bypass the arteries. Dr. Paolini explains that surgical treatment includes either endovascular (minimally-invasive surgery) or open repair.
“Endovascular options require access to the arterial system with a sheath placed remotely, with subsequent wire negotiation of the plaque,” he says. “Then, balloon angioplasty, atherectomy (plaque removal) and/or stenting can be applied. Alternatively, the open surgical options include endarterectomy (complete plaque removal) or bypass procedures. Finally, a hybrid procedure involving both open and endovascular techniques can be employed.”
“Unfortunately, PAD can’t be cured,” Dr. Paolini says. “But with cooperation from the patient, it can be treated resulting in good outcomes for the patient and their health.”