Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is an illness that causes fatty deposits to accumulate inside a person's arteries. These deposits reduce the flow of blood in the sufferer's legs. This condition can significantly increase an individual's risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Read on to learn about some of the ways in which PAD can be treated.
There is currently no form of medication which can cure PAD; however, there are several prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals which can reduce a person's risk of having a stroke or a heart attack as a result of having this condition. Many doctors instruct patients who have PAD to take aspirin on a daily basis, as this can help to thin the blood. They also often prescribe ACE inhibitors, which can lower blood pressure and relax the walls of the arteries and veins.
Additionally, they sometimes offer statins, which are a type of medication that is designed to reduce the levels of 'bad' cholesterol. This can help to prevent arteries that are almost blocked by fatty deposits from becoming completely obstructed.
There are several lifestyle changes that a person with PAD can make to reduce their chances of suffering from complications related to their illness. For example, research has shown that both obesity and smoking can significantly increase the likelihood of PAD sufferers having a heart attack or a stroke. As such, most doctors treating patients with PAD advise these individuals to lose weight and give up smoking.
Peripheral arterial bypass
If a person with PAD is found to have a severely blocked artery, their doctor may refer them to a vascular surgeon so that they can undergo a procedure known as a peripheral arterial bypass. This operation is normally performed with general anaesthetic, meaning that the patient will remain unconscious throughout the entire surgery.
During the operation, the vascular surgeon will create an incision in the skin directly above the blocked artery. They will then insert a tube called a 'graft', which will allow the blood from the upper body to bypass the blockage in the artery and reach the lower extremity. Following the insertion of the graft, the surgeon will stitch up the incision.
It is rare for those who undergo this surgery to experience any major complications; however, there is a small risk that a blood clot could form inside the graft and result in it being blocked. There is also a risk of infection at the wound site.
Talk with a doctor about the risks and the options that will be best for your situation.