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While there is no cure for peripheral artery disease (PAD), you can stop it from getting worse and take steps to prevent heart and limb problems.

  • Ask about starting a supervised exercise program. This will help you walk more easily and hurt less. It can also help you avoid other forms of heart disease. Make physical activity a routine part of your day.
  • Quit smoking or don’t start. This will help you avoid more deadly forms of heart disease. It’s OK if you fail at first. Keep trying. Ask your care team about quit-smoking programs that are proven to help.
  • Keep your other medical issues under control. It’s very important to stay on top of diabetes and get your cholesterol and blood pressure to a healthy level. This will help stop your PAD from getting worse.

In addition to exercise and keeping up with other healthy choices, your care team might recommend medicines or treatments. Many of these have the double benefit of helping with PAD while also helping to prevent or slow other forms of heart disease.

Your treatment plan might also include:

  • Cilostazol, a medicine that helps open narrowed arteries and makes walking easier
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, which help prevent plaque from building up in your arteries 
  • Blood thinners, which help prevent you from developing dangerous blood clots
  • Surgeries and medical devices, which can help open blocked arteries so blood can flow better if medications and lifestyle changes don’t work

In PAD, the buildup of plaque in the arteries slows blood flow. This buildup is made up of primarily cholesterol, calcium and other debris. This is the same disease process that blocks the arteries in the heart (causing heart attacks), neck (causing strokes) and elsewhere.

If you have PAD, you have a much higher risk of also having blockages in other arteries throughout your body. Be sure to talk about your risk for heart attack or stroke with your care team.

  • Last Edited 08/06/2021