Secure online access to Cleveland Clinic's specialists for over 1,200 medical diagnoses, nutritional consultation and pre-adoption advice

Cleveland Clinic News  The latest from our experts

How to Treat Your Peripheral Artery Disease

HeartYour options for treating peripheral artery disease (PAD) are expanding. That’s good news – if we only knew which ones were best.

First, some background on PAD
PAD is when plaque builds up in arteries that carry blood to your legs. Plaque buildup can restrict your circulation. If it becomes severe, you may develop wounds in your lower legs or feet, which can be very painful and make walking difficult. If left untreated, PAD puts you at risk for amputation.

Diet and exercise can help improve your blood flow. So can medication. In addition, there are several treatment options for severe PAD:

  • Balloon angioplasty. A catheter (thin tube) is inserted into the artery. A tiny balloon on the end of the catheter is inflated to flatten the plaque against the artery wall, widening the vessel and improving blood flow. The balloon is then deflated and removed.

  • Balloon angioplasty with stenting. A balloon catheter widens the artery and leaves behind a stent (mesh tube) to prevent the artery from closing or narrowing again.

  • Atherectomy. Physicians use a catheter with a device to remove plaque from the artery.

  • Bypass surgery. Surgeons reroute blood flow by implanting a new blood vessel to go around the blocked artery.

Learn more about the newest treatment option for PAD: a drug-coated balloon.