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Int Angiol. 2015 Feb;34(1):75-93. Epub 2014 Jun 11.

Medical management of patients with peripheral arterial disease.

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  • 1Department of Vascular Disease, University Clinical Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia -


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is one of the most frequent manifestations of atherosclerosis and is associated with atherosclerosis in the coronary and carotid arteries, leading to a highly increased incidence of cardiovascular events. Major risk factors of PAD are similar to those that lead to atherosclerosis in other vascular beds. However, there are differences in the power of individual risk factors in the different vascular territories. Cigarette smoking and diabetes mellitus represent the greatest risks of PAD. For prevention of the progression of PAD and accompanying cardiovascular events similar preventative measures are used as in coronary artery disease (CAD). However, recent data indicate that there are some differences in the efficacy of drugs used in the prevention of atherothrombotic events in PAD. Antiplatelet treatment is indicated in virtually all patients with PAD. In spite of the absence of hard evidence- based data on the long term efficacy of aspirin, it is still considered as a first line treatment and clopidogrel as an effective alternative. The new antiplatelet drugs ticagrelol and prasugrel also represent promising options for treatment of PAD. Statin therapy is indicated to achieve the target low density lipoprotein cholesterol level of ≤2.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dL) and there is emerging evidence that lower levels are more effective. Statins may also improve walking capacity. Antihypertensive treatment is indicated to achieve the goal blood pressure (<140/90 mmHg). All classes of antihypertensive drugs including beta-blockers are acceptable for treatment of hypertension in patients with PAD. Diabetic patients with PAD should reduce their glycosylated haemoglobin to ≤7%. As PAD patients represent the group with the highest risk of atherothrombotic events, these patients need the most intensive treatment and elimination of risk factors of atherosclerosis. These measures should be as comprehensive as those in patients with established coronary and cerebrovascular disease.

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