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Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common manifestation of atherosclerosis that affects more than 10 million people in the United States. The risk factors associated with PAD are similar to those found in patients with coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease. Medical therapy of PAD must include modification of cardiovascular risk factors with application of strict secondary prevention guidelines. For improvement in quality of life, a structured exercise rehabilitation program remains the most effective noninterventional treatment strategy, but it is difficult to employ from economic and patient-compliance perspectives. Newer pharmacologic therapies have demonstrated efficacy in patients with intermittent claudication. Emerging strategies for management of these patients include revascularization and maximal medical therapy for improvement of physical function as well as reduction in risk for subsequent major cardiovascular events. This article will review the clinical data supporting aggressive medical interventions for patients with PAD.

(C) Copyright 2004 Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology