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Joint guidelines offer recommendations for treating peripheral artery disease


 

FROM THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF CARDIOLOGY

Lower extremity disease

Recommendations for lower extremity revascularization in patients with claudication are based largely on the 2016 AHA/ACC Guideline on the Management of Patients with Lower Extremity Peripheral Artery Disease.

For patients with PAD and intermittent claudication, medical therapy and exercise are the first-line treatments. Revascularization should be considered only when this option fails. The appropriateness of intervention depends on the location and length of the lesion.

Intensification of medical therapy or endovascular treatment are appropriate for patients with aortoiliac, superficial femoral artery, and popliteal artery lesions; surgery also may be appropriate here. Medical therapy is appropriate for lesions located below the knee, as well; endovascular approaches also may be appropriate. Surgery for these lesions is rarely appropriate.

Critical limb ischemia

Medical therapy is generally not considered for these patients. But regardless of the lesion location, the panel found either endovascular or surgical treatment appropriate. Indeed, revascularization is the only viable treatment for these patients.

“Revascularization, whether endovascular or surgical, is critical for the reduction of high morbidity and mortality rates associated with limb loss. Mortality rates have been reported to be as high as 20% within 6 months of diagnosis and exceeding 50% after 5 years in patients left untreated. Furthermore, this degree of PAD is commonly associated with excessive cardiovascular events, often surpassing mortality rates associated with even symptomatic coronary artery disease.”

Asymptomatic artery disease

The recommendations in this category address the need to gain arterial access for potentially life-saving cardiovascular procedures. There are no published data in this area, so the recommendations are all based on expert opinion.

To gain access for coronary interventions, endovascular treatment and surgery are both appropriate. For hemodynamic support and large vascular or valvular interventions, endovascular approaches are appropriate, and surgical approaches may be appropriate.

Options for endovascular treatment when deemed appropriate or may be appropriate

Since there is no standardized treatment when an intervention is deemed appropriate, the potential procedures are organized by general lesion location (above or below the inguinal ligament and below the knee), and by lesion length. The recommendations cover the most commonly used endovascular treatment modalities.

“Of note, the use of atherectomy in the iliac artery has been rated Rarely Appropriate in all clinical scenarios,” the team noted. “This rating derives from an absence of data supporting the use of this technology, compared with balloon angioplasty and stenting. Similarly, the use of atherectomy in the superficial femoral and popliteal arteries and below-the-knee vessels also received a lower score, again because of the lack of comparative data relative to technologies with prospectively collected data. The evidence base to judge intervention below the knees is not as developed as other lower-extremity locations, which results in more frequent use of the May Be Appropriate category. The rating panel felt that below-the-knee atherectomy once again lacked comparative evidence to support general use.”

There are some exceptions, “favoring atherectomy include severe calcification and undilatable lesions; however, other technologies had a better evidence base for routine revascularization in most settings.”

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