Treatment for PAD focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression of the disease. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise and claudication medications are enough to slow the progression or even reverse the symptoms of PAD.
The most effective treatment for PAD is regular physical activity. Your doctor may recommend a program of supervised exercise training for you. You may have to begin slowly, but simple walking regimens, leg exercises and treadmill exercise programs three times a week can result in decreased symptoms in just four to eight weeks. Exercise for intermittent claudication takes into account the fact that walking causes pain. The program consists of alternating activity and rest in intervals to build up the amount of time you can walk before the pain sets in. It's best if this exercise program is undertaken in a rehabilitation center on a treadmill and monitored. If it isn't possible to go to a rehabilitation center, ask your healthcare professional to help you plan a program that's best suited to your situation.
Many PAD patients have elevated cholesterol levels. A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can help lower blood cholesterol levels, but medication may be necessary to maintain the proper cholesterol levels.
Tobacco smoke greatly increases your risk for PAD and your risk for heart attack and stroke. Smokers may have four times the risk of developing PAD than nonsmokers. Stop smoking. It will help to slow the progression of PAD and other heart-related diseases.
- You may be prescribed high blood pressure and/or cholesterol-lowering medications. It's important to make sure that you take the medication as recommended by your healthcare professional. Not following directions increases your risk for PAD, as well as heart attack and stroke.
- Medications that your doctor may prescribe to help improve the distance you can walk include cilostazol and pentoxifylline.
- In addition, you may be prescribed antiplatelet medications (aspirin and clopidogrel) to help prevent blood clots.
*Information from the American Heart Association