How to open blocked leg arteries

Updated July 19, 2017

Blocked leg arteries are a consequence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up within the arteries. The build-up of plaque is called atherosclerosis. Plaque formation reduces the diameter of the artery, decreasing blood flow to the leg. In severe cases, blood flow is reduced to a trickle, or the artery becomes completely blocked. You can open blocked leg arteries with medication, lifestyle changes and surgery.

Take a blood-thinning medication. Prescription anticoagulants are often used to decrease the chance of further clotting, and to potentially improve the blockage. Blood pressure medication is often prescribed, as well.

Control blood sugar. Diabetics are at a higher risk for PAD.

Undergo a surgical procedure to restore blood flow to the affected leg. Angioplasty may be used to open the artery and insert a stent. Another artery may be used to create an arterial bypass around the affected area. Thrombolytic therapy may be used to dissolve the clot by injecting medication into the affected artery.

Change your lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet. Refrain from smoking. Get plenty of low-impact exercise, such as walking. Lose weight. If you are diabetic, work with your doctor to get your blood sugar under control.

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About the Author

Diane Ursu has an associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography and worked as a sonographer for five years. She is also a mountain biking advocate and has sat on the board of directors for multiple non-profit organizations.