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Peripheral Vascular Disease Treatment 

Two main goals for treatment of peripheral artery/vascular disease are to control the symptoms and halt the progression of the disease to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and other complications. 

Specific treatment will be determined by a physician based on: 

  • age, overall health, and medical history 
  • extent of the disease 
  • signs and symptoms 
  • tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies 
  • expectations for the course of the disease 
  • patient’s opinion or preference 

Treatment may include: 

  • lifestyle modifications to control risk factors, including regular exercise, proper nutrition, and smoking cessation 
  • aggressive treatment of existing conditions that may aggravate PVD, such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia (elevated blood cholesterol) 
  • medications for improving blood flow, such as antiplatelet agents (blood thinners) and medications that relax the blood vessel walls 
  • angioplasty - a catheter (long hollow tube) is used to create a larger opening in an artery to increase blood flow. Angioplasty may be performed in many of the arteries in the body. There are several types of angioplasty procedures, including:
    • balloon angioplasty - a small balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area
    • atherectomy - the blocked area inside the artery is "shaved" away by a tiny device on the end of a catheter 
    • laser angioplasty - a laser used to "vaporize" the blockage in the artery 
    • stent - a tiny coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area and is left in place to keep the artery open 
  • vascular surgery - a bypass graft using a blood vessel from another part of the body or a tube made of synthetic material is placed in the area of the blocked or narrowed artery to reroute the blood flow 

With both angioplasty and vascular surgery, an angiogram is often performed prior to the procedure. 

Peripheral Vascular Disease Complications 

Complications most often occur because of decreased or absent blood flow. Such complications may include: 

  • amputation (loss of a limb) 
  • heart attack 
  • poor wound healing 
  • restricted mobility due to pain or discomfort with exertion 
  • severe pain in the affected extremity 
  • stroke (three times more likely in persons with PVD) 

By following an aggressive treatment plan for peripheral vascular disease, these complications may be prevented.