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Optimal risk factor modification and medical management of the patient with peripheral arterial disease.

Peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD) is a highly prevalent atherosclerotic syndrome associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is defined by atherosclerotic obstruction of the abdominal aorta and arteries to the legs that reduces arterial flow during exercise and/or at rest, and is a common manifestation of systemic atherosclerosis. PAD represents a marker for premature cardiovascular events, and in patients with PAD, even in the absence of a history of myocardial infarction (MI) or ischemic stroke, they have approximately the same relative risk of death from cardiovascular causes as do patients with a history of coronary or cerebrovascular disease. In addition, their death rate from all causes is approximately equal in men and women and is elevated even in asymptomatic patients. The major risk factors for PAD are the well defined atherosclerotic risks such as diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking, advanced age, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. Due to the presence of these risk factors, the systemic nature of atherosclerosis, and the high risk of ischemic events, patients with PAD should be candidates for aggressive secondary prevention strategies including aggressive risk factor modification, antiplatelet therapy, lipid lowering therapy and antihypertensive treatment. This article reviews the current medical treatment and risk factor modification of patients with PAD.

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