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Patient Information

Doctor and Patient

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a blockage or narrowing (stenosis) of arteries that supply blood flow to the legs. This is often due to a buildup of fatty plaque inside the arteries. There are many causes of PAD, but the two most common risk factors are diabetes and a history of smoking cigarettes. PAD, once known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD), comes in many forms with a wide range of symptoms, ranging from pain with walking (claudication) to ulceration and gangrene.

Treatment of PAD includes making lifestyle changes, taking medications or having minimally invasive and/or open surgical procedures. Revascularization (vascular bypass surgery) may be necessary to treat lifestyle-limiting symptoms or to decrease the risk of amputation.

Peripheral Arterial Disease: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

  • Johns Hopkins experts provide the entire range of treatments for PAD, including medical management, vascular surgery, minimally invasive/endovascular therapy and hybrid therapies. Surgery is not always indicated for PAD.
  • Our experts are focused on providing you with the appropriate treatment(s) that meet your needs at the appropriate times.
  • The hybrid therapies available at Johns Hopkins are not typically available at smaller medical centers.
  • Our multidisciplinary team will work with you and your family from evaluation to treatment, and provide follow-up care.

Peripheral Arterial Disease Treatments

Treatments for PAD may include one or a combination of the options below:

  • Lifestyle changes: This involves regular exercise, proper nutrition and quitting smoking.
  • Medical management: Doctors treat diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol with medication; it may also include medications to improve blood flow and relax the blood vessel walls.
  • Vascular surgery/lower extremity bypass: A bypass graft using a blood vessel from another part of the body or a tube made of synthetic material is placed in the area of the blocked or narrowed artery to reroute the blood flow. Learn about a type of lower extremity bypass procedure called femoral popliteal bypass surgery.
  • Endovascular therapy (minimally invasive surgery)/percutaneous transluminal angioplasty: A thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the femoral artery through a small puncture in the thigh to reach the blockage, expand the artery and increase blood flow.
  • Hybrid/collaborative approaches: These unique approaches combine open and minimally invasive techniques into one effective procedure.

Patient Resources

Learn more about PAD in our health library.

Find out about minimally invasive treatments for PAD.

Watch an online health seminar about PAD.

Learn about limb-saving therapies for PAD.  

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