Because atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of peripheral artery disease (PAD), progresses slowly over time, many people are not diagnosed until they experience symptoms like pain or cramps in the legs after walking or exercise.
Depending on the severity of the blockage in your artery, your diagnosis may have been quickly followed by a procedure to restore blood flow, like an angioplasty, a stent procedure, or bypass surgery. These can be unexpected and traumatic events that may not have left you with much time to process what is really happening in your body.
To help you feel more confident about your health and treatment options during this period of adjustment, we’ve created a short list of important things to know and understand in the coming weeks.
PAD in a nutshell
PAD is the end result of atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty deposits, or plaque, inside the arteries that supply blood to your limbs, usually your legs. Atherosclerosis may begin early in life and is accelerated by certain risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Poor diet, not enough physical activity, a family history of heart disease, being overweight, and diabetes are also contributing factors. PAD is serious because plaques that grow large enough, or blood clots caused by a ruptured plaque, can limit or completely block blood flow to the limbs, causing pain. In serious cases, amputation of the limb may be necessary. PAD is also related to coronary artery disease, or CAD, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Learn more about PAD.
Making healthy choices goes a long way
It’s not too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle that may slow or even stop the progression of your PAD. It’s especially important, now that you’re recovering from surgery, to quit smoking, eat better, and begin building more physical activity into your routine as your recovery allows. Learn more about making heart-healthy choices.
Understand the role of medication
Your healthcare professional may prescribe different medications to address risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. They may also prescribe blood thinners like aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix®), or a combination of the two (referred to as dual antiplatelet therapy or DAPT) to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Learn more about treatment options for PAD.
Reach out for support
The help of a friend or family member can make a positive impact on your recovery. You may want to share this caregiver guide with them so they can understand how best to support you.
Consider your medication options down the road
It’s not too early to look ahead. Once you complete the course of therapy your healthcare professional prescribes after your event, they may recommend simply taking a daily low-dose aspirin to reduce your risk for cardiovascular events. But did you know there’s more you can do? Learn more about how adding XARELTO® to low-dose aspirin can help further reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death.
Sign up for ongoing support from Janssen CarePath
Learn about savings options, and get help to stay on track with useful information and tools when you register for Janssen CarePath Patient Support for XARELTO®.