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Discharge Instructions for Peripheral Vascular Disease

You have been diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease. 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 plaque (a fatlike substance). As plaque builds up in an artery, blood flow can be reduced or even blocked, causing peripheral vascular disease. This can lead to pain while walking (claudication), pain at rest, and even ulcers or gangrene.

Home Care

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

  • Cut back on salt.

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

  • Don’t add 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 doctor how to get started. You can benefit from simple activities such as walking or gardening.

  • Make an effort to break your smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.

  • Take your medications exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

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


Talk to your health care provider about treatment options. These may include an exercise program, medications, angioplasty, or surgery.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Pain in your legs or a sensation that your legs are “giving out”

  • Persistent 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

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Last Review Date: 3/24/2014
© 2000-2016 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.