If you find out that you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), you may wonder whether your diagnosis will affect the way you live. While PAD can’t be cured, there are many treatment options and heart-healthy lifestyle changes you can make to limit its impact.

Medication

High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes are all risk factors for PAD. If you have any of these conditions, your doctor will probably put you on medication. Treating the underlying conditions will in turn treat PAD. Apart from these risk factors, your doctor may put you on blood thinners or anticoagulants to improve your circulation, limiting your risk of a clot. Some doctors may suggest a daily aspirin regimen, but it's important not to do that without your physician’s recommendation. Pain medications may also be necessary for patients who have severe leg pain while walking or climbing stairs due to PAD.

Surgery

Bypass surgery is another option to treat PAD. In bypass surgery, doctors reroute blood around the damaged or diseased part of the artery through either a synthetic artery or a blood vessel taken from another part of the body. This is a common treatment for a wide array of cardiovascular diseases, but it isn't usually necessary unless a large part of the artery is blocked or your PAD symptoms are very severe.

Stenting

This is a newer method of treating cardiovascular blockages. A tiny balloon is inserted into the blood vessel through a tiny incision in the leg. It is inflated to clear the blockage, and a medical stent—a hollow tube— is inserted to keep the artery open. In some cases, doctors may be able to remove the plaque that's closing up the artery with an atherectomy. This is less invasive procedure that surgically removes plaque that has built up on the artery wall., The benefits of atherectomy may not last as long as stenting; in many cases, the procedure has to be redone.

Removing the clot

Your doctor may choose to remove your blood clot if blood flow is completely obstructed. In some cases, a catheter can be inserted to remove the clot itself or used to inject anticoagulants into the clot to dissolve it.

After treatment

Lifestyle changes can limit the impact PAD has on your life.

While medical PAD treatments are often effective, it's important to do your part as well. By leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, you'll also support vascular health and recovery. Some heart-health tips include not smoking or quitting if you already do, exercising, and following a healthy diet to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels in check. Making these lifestyle changes may not only make your PAD more manageable, but also reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and complications such as infection, gangrene, and the need for amputation.