Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment and Care
The vascular specialists at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute are experts in diagnosing and treating patients with peripheral artery disease or PAD. Our advanced level of care helps patients reduce their peripheral artery disease symptoms, improve mobility and prevent life-threatening complications such as stroke or a heart attack.
Although there are an estimated 8 million people in the U.S. with peripheral artery disease, most people are unaware of this condition. In many cases, you may have PAD, but have not been diagnosed properly. PAD is defined as a narrowing or blockage of arteries in different critical areas of the body. Also known as atherosclerosis, PAD is caused by a buildup of fatty material in the arteries called plaque.
Identifying Peripheral Artery Disease Risk Factors
While aging may lead to minor hardening of the arteries and plaque buildup, there are certain risk factors that may lead to quicker development of PAD. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of being diagnosed with this condition. Some of the most common PAD risk factors include:
- Age of 50 or older
- Family history of heart or vascular disease
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
You cannot control risk factors such as age and family history. However, you can control diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and stress by leading a healthy lifestyle. Controlling these PAD risk factors will also reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Conservative and Non-Surgical Treatments
Managing risk factors is often an effective PAD treatment option. If you are living with this condition, our vascular specialists will start by recommending a nutritious diet that’s low in saturated fat, regular exercise, quitting smoking and controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or diabetes.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, we will likely encourage you to participate in exercise therapy. The goal of exercise therapy is to help you increase distance before you experience pain so that the pain can be completely eliminated in time.
If lifestyle changes and exercise therapy do not improve your condition, endovascular therapies such as angioplasty and stents may be viable treatment options. In the event our vascular specialists determine surgery is necessary, one of the following procedures may be performed:
- Bypass graft: A bypass graft involves using a healthy blood vessel from another part of your body or a synthetic tube to create a new pathway for blood to flow.
- Endarterectomy: In an endarterectomy, plaque is removed directly from the inside of the artery wall. A doctor will make a small incision along the blocked artery and physically remove the plaque.
A bypass graft and endarterectomy can restore blood flow and relieve your PAD symptoms. The effects of these surgeries usually last for many years.
Vascular Rehabilitation for Peripheral Artery Disease
For vascular rehabilitation, our team at University Hospitals provides PAD specific rehabilitative care including medical evaluation, prescribed exercise, vascular risk factor modification, education and counseling. By focusing on the vascular components of your cardiovascular health, our team can improve your vascular recovery and long-term health.
For More Information about Peripheral Artery Disease
If you or someone you love is at risk for peripheral artery disease, it is important to see a vascular specialist for an accurate diagnosis. Our team at University Hospitals can help. We have appointments available at a range of convenient locations.