Claudication Treatments

Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • The location of the blockage
  • Your signs and symptoms
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Claudication is usually treated first with lifestyle changes to modify the risk factors for peripheral arterial disease. Medication and surgery may be needed in some cases. Treatment may include:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Exercise, preferably a walking program
  • Diet low in saturated fats
  • Treatment of related medical problems, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and/or high blood sugar levels. Treatment for these problems includes diet and exercise. In some cases, medication(s) may be prescribed.
  • Prevention of blood clots with antiplatelet medication, such as aspirin or other medications
  • Medications, such as pentoxifylline or cilostazol, that may improve walking distances in some cases

For severe cases, such as when blood flow has been completely or almost completely blocked a procedure or surgery may be needed. This may include:

  • Angioplasty. This is the use of a catheter to create a larger opening in the vessel to increase blood flow. Often, a tiny coil called a stent is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area. The stent is left in place.
  • Surgery may be needed to open the blocked artery.

In very few cases, when all other treatments have not been effective, the limb may need to be amputated. People who smoke or who have diabetes are at increased risk amputation.

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