• The goal of treatment with medications is to prevent or treat a symptom or disease.
  • Medications that treat vascular disorders include antihypertensives, which lower blood pressure; lipid-lowering drugs, which control high cholesterol and other blood fats; tobacco cessation (stop smoking) drugs; diabetes medications to control blood sugar; antiplatelets; and anticlotting drugs, which prevent problems from blood clots.
  • The physician chooses the medication and the specific dose depending on many factors, including the patient’s condition and lifestyle habits and known side effects of the drug.
  • The physician chooses the medication and the specific dose depending on many factors, including the patient’s condition and lifestyle habits and known side effects of the drug.
  • Medications are chemicals that affect the body and its processes to treat or prevent a disease or symptom. Medications may be used together with other treatments or alone as an attempt to avoid surgical treatment.
  • Categories of medications that treat vascular disorders include:
    • Antihypertensives
    • Lipid-lowering drugs
    • Anticlotting drugs
  • The medication and the specific dose for any vascular condition should be discussed with the physician.


Medications may be prescribed or recommended to control symptoms of vascular conditions such as:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol and other blood fats
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) such as arm or leg artery disease

If a patient is undergoing a surgical or catheter-based procedure, a physician may prescribe medications such as anticoagulants to reduce the risk of complications. Physicians consider many factors when prescribing medications, including gender, age, and interactions with other medications. For some conditions medications may not be indicated until the patient has tried lifestyle modifications for a certain period of time and has not experienced relief.


Because of possible interactions with other drugs, the patient should report any other medications that he or she is taking to a physician. Pregnant women should discuss with their physician whether they are eligible for medications.


People with a known allergy or sensitivity to a drug are not eligible to take it.

Certain diseases or conditions such as liver disease may prohibit a patient from taking certain drugs.


Factors that increase the chances of harmful reactions include:

  • Taking several drugs simultaneously
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Taking certain medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) with grapefruit juice
  • Advanced age
  • Diseases, such as diabetes mellitus or depression
  • Drug allergies


Drugs can be administered in several ways, including:

  • Orally
  • Via injection
  • Sublingually (under the tongue)
  • Rectally
  • Transdermally (via a patch applied to the skin)
  • Via inhalation

The following categories of medications treat hypertension, high cholesterol, and PAD:

  • Antihypertensives—Antihypertensive drugs lower blood pressure by controlling blood vessel constriction (narrowing), increasing blood vessel dilation (widening), decreasing cardiac output, or all three. A single drug or combination of drugs may be recommended. Commonly prescribed antihypertensives include:
    • Diuretics
    • Beta-blockers
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
    • Calcium channel blockers
  • Lipid-Lowering Drugs—Lowering high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels is the primary target of lipid therapy. If lipid (blood fat) levels do not improve after 3 months of lifestyle changes, or if a person has coronary heart disease or blood lipid levels that are thought to be genetically determined, physicians may consider the following types of cholesterol-lowering drugs:
    • Statins
    • Fibrates
    • Bile acid sequestrants
    • Niacin (or, nicotinic acid)
  • Anticlotting Drugs—People who have a history of blood clots or are at risk for pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke may be prescribed anticlotting (also known as antithrombotic) drugs, including:
    • Anticoagulants such as warfarin
    • Antiplatelet medications such as aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix)
    • Cilostazol (Pletal)


These drugs require medical supervision. The patient should not start or stop taking these medications without first consulting a physician. Additionally, the patient should ask questions or request written instructions if he or she does not understand how to follow the treatment plan. Not taking or missing doses of prescribed drug treatment may not relieve or treat the person’s disease, and can result in potentially life-threatening occurrences such as stroke.

The patient should tell the physician if any side effects develop from medication therapy. The physician may recommend follow-up blood tests during treatment with medications.


In many cases, the physician will recommend that the patient continue following healthy lifestyle habits during treatment with medications. These lifestyle changes can help the medications work better to reduce the risk of complications from vascular diseases and include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Losing weight
  • Eating a diet low in fat, cholesterol, and calories
  • Exercising

[NOTE: This is an abbreviated version of the complete article. If you would like to read this article in its entirety, please call our office at (307) 778‐1849 and ask to meet with one of our specialists to receive a ‘Prescription Pad’ registration form. If you already have a ‘Prescription Pad’ form, please login and follow the instructions listed on the form. If you experience any issues during the registration process, please call member services at 1 (800) 603-1420 for assistance.]

Medical Review Date: November 24, 2009 / Copyright © 2012 NorthPoint Domain, Inc. All rights reserved. This material cannot be reproduced in digital or printed form without the express consent of NorthPoint Domain, Inc. Unauthorized copying or distribution of NorthPoint Domain’s Content is an infringement of the copyright holder’s rights.