Drug therapy for peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD)

The basis for successful treatment of peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD) is drug therapy. We use them on the one hand to directly improve the blood circulation in the affected body region and on the other hand to slow down or even stop the continuous deterioration of the blood circulation situation due to poorly adjusted risk factors.


Arterial blood flow can be improved directly by the use of so-called platelet aggregation inhibitors. They prevent blood platelets from sticking together. Typical medications used for this purpose include low-dose aspirin cardio (100 mg per day) or, alternatively, clopidogrel (75 mg per day). As PAD is a chronic disease, these medications must be taken for the rest of the patient’s life.

Just as important as the direct improvement of arterial blood flow is the cessation of vascular-damaging risk factors. There are a large number of risk factors, but only a few can be effectively treated with medication. These include high blood pressure, diabetes and elevated blood lipids.

  • High blood pressure is controlled by so-called ACE inhibitors or calcium antagonists, for example.
  • Metformin (up to 1000 mg twice a day) or various insulin preparations are used for diabetes.
  • Statins are used to treat elevated blood lipids, in particular to lower the level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).

For each of these three risk factors, there are target values documented by studies that should be achieved. If we can achieve these target values, we have a good chance of slowing down or even stopping the progression of the circulatory disorder.

Aftercare - What can you do yourself?

You can support drug therapy with a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular physical exercise and a balanced, healthy diet. You should definitely stop smoking: It is a strong risk factor in its own right and cannot be offset by other factors such as exercise or a healthy diet.

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