Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment of claudication and peripheral artery disease can help prevent your disease from getting worse and reduce your symptoms. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and participating in a regular exercise regimen, are often the first steps in treating claudication.

If your claudication symptoms don't improve after adopting a healthier lifestyle, your doctor may suggest other treatment options, including:

  • Medications. Your doctor might recommend you take aspirin to reduce the chance of blood clots. He or she might also prescribe other medications that help keep your blood from clotting, such as clopidogrel (Plavix), dipyridamole (Persantine) and ticlopidine. The medication cilostazol (Pletal) may help improve blood flow and reduce your symptoms. If you can't take cilostazol, or if it doesn't improve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you try pentoxifylline (Trental). Additionally, if necessary, your doctor will also prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug (statin) to lower your cholesterol.
  • Angioplasty. Cases of claudication and peripheral artery disease that are more serious may require angioplasty. This is a procedure that widens damaged arteries using a narrow tube that travels through your blood vessels and has an inflatable balloon on the end that can help improve circulation. A stent is often implanted at the same time to keep the artery propped open. Once an artery is open, your doctor may place a small metal or plastic mesh tube (stent) in the artery to keep it open.
  • Vascular surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery that takes a healthy blood vessel from another part of your body to replace the vessel that's causing your claudication. This allows blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery.

Your doctor may also suggest a combination of treatments, such as medications and angioplasty.

Jan. 20, 2012