Discharge Instructions for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

You have been diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Peripheral blood vessels deliver oxygen-rich blood to your legs and feet. Over time, your blood vessel walls may thicken as they build up with a fatty substance (plaque). As plaque builds up in an artery, blood flow can be reduced or even blocked. This causes PAD. This can lead to pain when you walk (claudication) and pain when you rest. It can even cause ulcers or tissue death due to lack of blood supply (gangrene).

Home care

  • Stay at a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds.

  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Limit canned, dried, packaged, and fast foods.

  • Limit your salt intake. Don’t add more salt to your food at the table.

  • Season foods with herbs instead of salt when you cook.

  • Lower the amount of cholesterol, and saturated and trans fats in your diet. 

  • Begin an exercise program. Ask your healthcare provider how to get started. You can benefit from simple activities such as walking or gardening.

  • Break your smoking habit. Join a stop-smoking program for a better chance of success.

  • Take your medicines as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • If you have diabetes, manage your blood sugar as directed by your healthcare provider.


Talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options. These may include an exercise program, medicines, angioplasty, or surgery.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your provider right away or seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:

  • Pain in your legs or a feeling that your legs are weak or giving out

  • Constant tingling, numbness, weakness, or coldness in your feet

  • Change in the color of your toes

  • Open sores that won’t heal on your toes, feet, or legs

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trouble speaking or understanding