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Medication for Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease

NYU Langone doctors may prescribe medication to manage blood clots, high blood pressurediabetes, and cholesterol levels, all of which can contribute to aortoiliac occlusive disease. Medication can improve the symptoms of the condition and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other peripheral artery diseases.

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Medication is often prescribed along with other treatments, including lifestyle changes and minimally invasive procedures.

Managing Blood Clots

Your doctor may prescribe anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication to reduce blood clotting and increase blood flow. 

Anticoagulants thin the blood, slowing the formation of blood clots. They may reduce your risk of aortoiliac occlusive disease, as well as help lower high blood pressure. Side effects may include bleeding and bruising. 

Antiplatelets are a group of medications that prevent platelets from forming blood clots.

Managing Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be a warning sign that you have aortoiliac occlusive disease. It indicates that your heart is working hard to pump blood through narrowed or blocked arteries and veins. Your doctor may recommend one or more medications to lower blood pressure.


NYU Langone doctors often first prescribe a thiazide medication—a class of diuretics—to manage high blood pressure. A diuretic causes sodium and water to be eliminated from your body, resulting in an increase in urine production. This reduces the amount of fluid in blood vessels, creating less work for your heart. 

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors widen, or dilate, blood vessels to improve blood flow. They work by blocking angiotensin, an enzyme that narrows blood vessels. Side effects can include elevated potassium levels in the blood, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Like ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers prevent blood vessels from narrowing by causing the nearby muscles to contract. They may be prescribed to people who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors. Side effects for some people include elevated potassium levels in the blood, a metallic taste in the mouth, and a rash. 

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels, making more room for blood to flow. These medications do this by slowing the absorption of calcium in the heart muscles and in blood vessel walls. Side effects can include low blood pressure, constipation, and swelling caused by a buildup of fluid in the legs and feet.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers relax and widen blood vessels by blocking the hormone adrenaline, allowing the heart to beat more slowly. For best results, beta blockers are typically prescribed with other blood pressure medications.

Lowering Cholesterol

Elevated levels of cholesterol can lead to a full or partial blockage of an artery, a leading cause of aortoiliac occlusive disease. If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels, your NYU Langone physician may prescribe medication to treat the condition. 

One type of medication, called statins, blocks a substance that the liver uses to make cholesterol. Statins also help your body reabsorb cholesterol from the plaque buildup inside your arteries, which may reverse aortoiliac occlusive disease.

Another type of medication, called cholesterol absorption inhibitors, limits the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food, lowering cholesterol levels.

Controlling Diabetes

People with uncontrolled diabetes may develop blockages in the arteries of the lower leg. Treatment depends on the type of diabetes a person has. People with type 1 diabetes, for instance, must take insulin, which is given by injection, because their bodies don’t produce this substance naturally. 

Some people with type 2 diabetes, in which the body doesn’t use insulin properly, can manage the condition by eating well and exercising regularly. Others with type 2 diabetes may need to take medication, in addition to making lifestyle changes, to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. These medications can be taken by mouth or injected.

Your doctor chooses the combination of diabetes medications that’s right for you.

Our Research and Education in Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.