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Peripheral Artery Disease
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is narrow, weak, or blocked arteries outside of your heart and brain. PAD is usually the result of a buildup of fat and cholesterol, also called plaque, along your artery walls. Inflammation, a blood clot, or abnormal cell growth could also block your arteries. PAD prevents normal blood flow to your legs and arms. You are at risk of an amputation if poor blood flow keeps wounds from healing or causes gangrene (tissue death). Without treatment, PAD can also cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Exercise rehabilitation is a program to increase how far you can walk without pain. Caregivers will help you safely walk or do strength training exercises 3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes. You will do this for several months, then transition to walking on your own. This program helps you stay active in normal daily activities and may prevent disability caused by PAD.
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Quitting smoking may help reduce your pain and other symptoms. It also helps reduce your risk that PAD will lead to a stroke, heart attack, or amputation. Ask your primary healthcare provider (PHP) for information if you need help quitting.
- Manage other health conditions. Take your medicines as directed and follow your PHP's instructions if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Perform foot care and check your blood sugar levels as directed if you have diabetes.
- Eat heart healthy foods. Eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables every day. Limit salt and high-fat foods. Ask your PHP for more information on a heart healthy diet. Ask if you need to lose weight. Your PHP can help you create a healthy weight-loss plan.
- Antiplatelet medicine , such as aspirin, helps prevent blood clots and reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your PHP if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your PHP as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your PHP if:
- You have leg pain when you walk 1/8 mile (200 meters) or less, even with treatment.
- Your legs are red, dry, or pale, even with treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have sores or wounds that will not heal.
- You notice black or discolored skin on your arm or leg.
- Your skin is cool to the touch.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.