Peripheral artery disease treatment can help many patients find relief from symptoms and prevent further damage to their arteries. Whether you need lifestyle changes or surgery to treat your condition, it’s important to understand all of your options and how different types of treatments can benefit you.\nFind out more about peripheral artery disease, the different types of treatments, and what questions to ask your doctor.\nWhat Is Peripheral Artery Disease?\nThe arteries in your legs bring oxygen-rich blood to your muscles and skin, helping you walk and heal wounds.\nPeripheral artery disease (PAD) happens when the arteries in your legs become narrow, usually because of atherosclerosis (or the buildup of plaque in your artery walls), which can restrict blood flow. Plaque may also rupture, leading to a blood clot that further limits or even totally blocks the flow of blood.\nPAD can affect your quality of life and lead to serious complications if left untreated. Mild to moderate PAD can cause pain with walking, which may make everyday tasks like climbing stairs or doing household chores difficult. In more severe cases, a lack of blood flow can cause tissue to die. Once tissue dies, it must be removed, sometimes through total amputation.\nIt’s also important to remember that if you have plaque in the arteries of your legs, you can have it in other arteries as well. If the arteries that bring blood to your heart or brain are also blocked, this can lead to life-threatening problems like heart attack and stroke.\nSymptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease\nThe most common symptom of mild PAD is pain or cramping in your leg muscles that happens when you walk or climb stairs but that goes away when you rest (known as intermittent claudication).\nWhile mild PAD is not limb-threatening, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have symptoms so you can begin treatment as soon as possible and prevent further damage to your arteries.\nMore severe forms of PAD can be limb-threatening. Patients with severe PAD can develop critical limb ischemia, which happens when your tissues cannot get enough blood because of a major blockage. This can lead to symptoms including:\n\nLeg or foot pain at rest\nSkin discoloration or coolness\nFoot ulcers, or wounds that do not heal\nGangrene, or tissue death\n\nPeripheral Artery Disease Treatment Options\nYour doctor will develop a peripheral artery disease treatment plan based on your symptoms, the severity of your condition, and your overall health. The goal of treatment will be to manage your symptoms and to treat the underlying cause of your PAD.\nLifestyle changes play a big part in PAD treatment and can help you lower your risk for other heart and vascular problems. Some lifestyle changes include:\n\nChoosing heart-healthy foods\nGetting regular physical activity\nQuitting smoking\nTaking medicines to help control diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure\n\nIf your PAD is moderate to severe, you may need additional treatments to restore proper blood flow, including:\n\nMinimally invasive procedures, like angioplasty and stenting, to open blocked arteries\nBypass surgery, which creates a new route for blood to flow around the blockage\n\nWhat Should I Ask My Doctor?\nIf you’ve been diagnosed with PAD, it’s important for you to understand your condition and your options for treatment. Some questions to ask your doctor, even if they might seem simple, include:\n\nWhat is my diagnosis?\nHow severe is my PAD?\nWhat are all of my options for treatment?\nHow will I know if the treatment is working?\nDo I need medication? If so, are there side effects?\nDo I need a procedure or surgery? If so, how long will I need to stay in the hospital?\nWhat lifestyle changes do you recommend?\n\nTo learn more about peripheral artery disease treatment options, contact the UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery or call 412-802-3333.