Lower extremity peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a manifestation of atherosclerosis, with a prevalence ranging from 4% to 12% in the adult population and increasing up to 20% in older individuals. Intermittent claudication (IC) may markedly impair walking ability, overall functional status and quality of life. PAD is a marker of systemic atherosclerosis and is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, leg disease usually runs a rather benign course in claudicant patients, with only about 1% to 3% of them ever requiring a major amputation over a 5-year period. The goals of treatment for claudication are to relieve exertional symptoms, and improve walking capacity and quality of life. Therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing systemic cardiovascular risk burden and prolonging survival, including intensive risk factor modification and antiplatelet therapy, should be implemented in all patients with PAD. Supervised exercise training has proven the most effective conservative treatment for symptomatic relief of IC. Current evidence for drug therapy of IC supports the use of cilostazol as a first-line drug. Other drugs with more limited evidence of benefit for claudication include pentoxifylline and naftidrofuryl. Endovascular or surgical revascularization is indicated for selected patients with vocation- or lifestyle-limiting claudication who are unresponsive to exercise and pharmacotherapy. New drug candidates for managing claudication symptoms include propionyl-L-carnitine and statins. Preliminary studies suggest that therapeutic angiogenesis holds promise for future treatment of IC.
Keywords: Intermittent claudication, peripheral arterial disease, exercise therapy, pharmacotherapy, revascularization
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