Treating patients with peripheral arterial disease and claudication.

Diane Treat-Jacobson, M. Eileen Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The vascular nurse plays an important role in the treatment of patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a prevalent atherosclerotic occlusive disease that affects approximately 8 to 12 million people in the United States. Approximately 4 to 5 million individuals with PAD experience claudication, the exercise-induced ischemic pain in the lower extremities that is relieved upon rest. Both PAD and claudication are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, limitations in functional capacity, and a decreased quality of life. Despite its prevalence, PAD is often undiagnosed and, therefore, increases the risk for cardiovascular ischemic events, disease progression, functional disability, amputation, and death. Risk factors for PAD and claudication are similar to those for other atherosclerotic diseases, including age, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and hyperhomocysteinemia. Effective treatment to normalize these risk factors can reduce disease progression and the incidence of cardiovascular ischemic events. Claudication symptoms can be improved most effectively through exercise training, which may be used in conjunction with medications specifically indicated to improve these symptoms. Vascular nurses, practicing in a multitude of inpatient and outpatient settings, can assist patients with risk-factor modifications and behavioral changes to help them stop smoking, maintain glycemic control, normalize high blood pressure and lipid levels, and ensure initiation of lifelong antiplatelet therapy and participation in exercise rehabilitation programs, thus, promoting positive outcomes for patients with claudication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of vascular nursing : official publication of the Society for Peripheral Vascular Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003


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