If the person is a smoker, they should stop smoking immediately. Exercise is essential to treating this disease. The patient should walk until pain appears, rest until the pain disappears, and then resume walking. The amount of walking a patient can do should increase gradually as the symptoms improve. Ideally, the patient should walk 30–60 minutes per day. Infections in the affected area should be treated promptly. Surgery may be required to attempt to treat clogged blood vessels. Limbs with gangrene must be amputated to prevent the death of the patient.
The prognosis depends on the underlying disease and the stage at which peripheral vascular disease is discovered. Removal of risk factors, such as smoking, should be done immediately. In many cases, peripheral vascular disease can be treated successfully but coexisting cardiovascular problems may ultimately prove to be fatal.
Alexander, R. W., R. C. Schlant, and V. Fuster, eds. The Heart. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill 1998.
Berkow, Robert, ed. Merck Manual of Medical Information. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories, 1997.
Embolism—The blockage of a blood vessel by air, blood clot, or other foreign body.
Plaque—A deposit, usually of fatty material, on the inside wall of a blood vessel.
John T. Lohr, PhD
John T. Lohr PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,