Treatment Options For Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease develops when plaque, which consists of substances such as cholesterol, fat, and calcium, builds up inside artery walls and causes narrowing. This leads to problems with blood circulation because of reduced blood flow to the brain, limbs, stomach, and kidneys. Peripheral arterial disease can also be caused by blood clots in the arteries, limb injuries, or abnormal structure of muscles or ligaments. 

Symptoms include weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs. Peripheral arterial disease patients also suffer from leg pain when walking (claudication) and open sores that do not heal properly. Risk factors for developing this condition include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, older age, and obesity. Treatment is geared towards symptom management and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Eat A Heart-Healthy Diet


Peripheral arterial disease patients tend to have elevated cholesterol levels, and following a heart-healthy diet can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Diet changes and adjustments should include a healthy eating plan with lots of fruits and vegetables. A heart-healthy diet should also include nutritious and low-fat foods and dairy products. Avoid foods containing trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils). Try to cut back on foods with lots of saturated fat or cholesterol and stick to lean cuts of meat and remove poultry skin. Use olive oil instead of coconut or palm oil. Patients should also limit their consumption of sugar, salt, and alcohol. Overweight or obese patients should work with a doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan to maintain a healthy weight.

Get Active

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Individuals with peripheral arterial disease usually experience pain while walking or engaging in other activities that require movement. Although it may be difficult, patients have to get active to combat the symptoms of the disease. Exercise is crucial to the management of peripheral arterial disease in many ways. Regular exercise for about thirty to forty-five minutes a few times a week can help condition muscles so the patient's body can use oxygen more efficiently. Doctors often recommend a supervised exercise program and medication may be able to lessen leg pain by improving blood flow to your legs. Simple walking regimens can help ease patients into routines using leg exercises and treadmill workouts to increase the distance walked before feeling pain. This distance is often used to gauge the success of a treatment plan. 

Many patients show improvement in a month or two after starting an effective exercise program. A claudication exercise rehabilitation program can help peripheral arterial disease patients with intermittent claudication. This program works by alternating between activity and resting. Regular exercise and physical activity is the best way for individuals to prevent this condition, and it's one of the most effective treatments that can substantially improve symptoms.