Major goals for treatment of peripheral artery disease include managing presenting symptoms such as severe leg pain and stopping the progression of atherosclerosis throughout the body to reduce additional risks of life-threatening conditions including heart attack and stroke.
Treatment option depends entirely on affected site and severity of narrowed arteries.
In early stage of peripheral artery disease, primary treatment is a combination of a supervised exercise training program to increase the distance that patients can walk pain-free with the use of medications e.g. cholesterol-lowering medications, anti-hypertensive drugs, blood sugar lowering drugs, medications to prevent blood clots and symptom-relief medications.
In moderate to severe cases, non-surgical treatment called “angioplasty” might be additionally needed. During this procedure, a small hollow tube (catheter) is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. A mesh framework called a stent might be further inserted in the artery to help keeping it open.
This surgical technique allows blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.
Prevention of peripheral artery disease
The best possible way to prevent peripheral artery disease is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
- Smoking cessation
- In case of being diabetic, blood sugar must be kept in good control.
- Blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels must be kept in a normal range, if applicable.
- Exercise regularly, aiming for 30 minutes each time and 3 times a week. It should be continued for at least 6 months consecutively.
- After walking, if pain exhibits in particular areas such as foot, calf and leg, immediate medical attention must be sought as soon as possible.
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