Treatment options may include:
- Medications – to help treat atherosclerosis, such as statins to lower LDL cholesterol and antihypertensive drugs to lower blood pressure.
- Drugs to treat blood clots – treatment may include various medications (including anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs) to prevent blood clots from developing and medications (including thrombolytics) that dissolve existing blood clots.
- Angioplasty – this procedure, usually performed under sedation and local anaesthetic, involves threading a thin tube (catheter) into the narrowed blood vessel through a small incision, usually in the leg. Once the catheter reaches the narrowed or blocked site, the small balloon on its tip is inflated. This widens the blood vessel and improves blood flow. Angioplasty is usually considered as a temporary measure.
- Surgical insertion of a stent – a stent is a metal ‘sleeve’ that is implanted inside the narrowed blood vessel during an angioplasty procedure to prop it open. Stents may be impregnated with medications that help to prevent scar tissue from narrowing the treated area of blood vessel.
- Atherectomy – this operation involves cutting away the fatty obstruction with a small scalpel-like instrument.
- Bypass surgery – this operation is usually only considered in severe cases that don’t respond to other treatments or in cases that involve large sections of the diseased blood vessel. A section of healthy vein is taken from somewhere else in the body and surgically grafted to re-route blood flow around the blockage in the affected blood vessel. The Doctor may sometimes use a piece of synthetic tubing to detour blood flow.
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