Taking aspirin, statins and not smoking helps people with blocked leg arteries avoid complications
However, too few patients take such steps to relieve leg pain and cramping associated with peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, according to the researchers.
The new study of more than 1,300 patients found that only about 47 percent of them did not smoke and were taking aspirin and a statin -- drugs that can reduce blood clots and improve blood flow -- when they were admitted to hospital for a peripheral vascular intervention, such as angioplasty, which is performed to open blocked leg arteries and improve blood flow.
When they were discharged from hospital, 71 percent of the patients were taking aspirin and a statin and either did not smoke or still smoked but had counseling to help them quit smoking.
Six months after undergoing the vascular procedure, the rate of complications -- such as repeat peripheral vascular intervention, surgery to save the limb, and amputation - was 7 percent for those who took aspirin and statin and nearly 16 percent for those who did not, according to the study released online in advance of print publication in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.
"The modest improvement in statin prescription before patients were discharged signifies a missed opportunity to provide a life-saving intervention for PAD patients," study author Dr. P. Michael Grossman, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, said in a university news release.