Peripheral artery disease means that one or more of the arteries that supply blood to the arms or legs are narrowed or blocked. The narrowing or blockage reduces blood flow to the arms or legs. Peripheral artery disease is more common in the legs. Symptoms include pain, coldness, or skin sores that do not heal well. Many people may have pain even while they are resting. However, some people may only notice pain with exercise or activity.
How can I take care of myself when I go home?
How long it takes to get better depends your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.
Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
Ask your provider if you should take aspirin. Aspirin may help prevent blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
Treat or prevent an infection
Relax and widen blood vessels and allow blood to flow through them easier
Help prevent blood clots
Slow the heart rate and reduce the workload of the heart
Control cholesterol levels
Reduce fluid build-up and swelling in the body
If you have had surgery, to care for your incision:
Keep your incision clean.
If you are told to change your dressing on your incision, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.
Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
Keep appointments for all routine testing you may need.
Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.
Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes
Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
Get plenty of rest while youâ€™re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
Exercise as your provider recommends.
Don’t smoke. Smoking can worsen peripheral artery disease.
You will probably need to make changes in some of the foods you eat. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet.
Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
Lose weight if you need to and keep a healthy weight.
Find ways to make your life less stressful.
Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines or muscle relaxants.
Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:
Chest pain or pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than few minutes, or goes away and comes back (may feel like indigestion or heartburn)
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, or in your back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Breaking out in a cold sweat for no known reason
If your provider has prescribed nitroglycerin for angina, pain that does not go away after taking your nitroglycerin as directed
Along with the previous symptoms, feeling very tired, faint, or sick to your stomach
Severe bleeding or bruising or bleeding that does not stop
Bluish color and coldness in your arm or leg
Weakness, numbness, tingling or pain in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body
Do not drive yourself if you have any of these symptoms.
Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:
Numbness in your feet or hands
Pain, redness, or swelling in your legs or arms
If you had surgery, signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
The area around your wound is more red or painful
Your wound area is very warm to touch
You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
You have a fever higher than 101.5Â° F (38.6Â° C)
You have chills or muscle aches
Unusual or unexpected bleeding, including:
Black, tarry bowel movements or blood in your bowel movement
Blood in your urine or red or brown colored urine
Blood in your vomit or dark brown or black material in your vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Coughing up blood
New bruises with no known cause or severe bruising
Ask your healthcare provider about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-07-30 Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Braunwald, E., & Bonow, R. O. (2012). Braunwald’s heart disease: a textbook of cardiovascular medicine (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders.
Rooke, T., et al (2011). 2011 ACCF/AHA focused update of the guideline for the management of patients with peripheral artery disease (updating the 2005 guideline): a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J. Am. Coll. of Cardiol., 58. Retrieved from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2011/09/29/CIR.0b013e31822e80c3.citation.
Townsend, C, Beauchamp, R, Evers, B, & Mattox, K. (2008). Sabiston textbook of surgery [18th ed.]. Retrieved from http://www.mdconsult.com