Lead study author Dr. P. Michael Grossman, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, said peripheral arterial disease is on the rise as people age and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity affect circulation.
Peripheral vascular interventions, such as angioplasty, improve blood flow, specifically to the legs.
The study, published online ahead of print in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, found but before peripheral vascular interventions more than half of patients studied failed to receive minimal medical therapy, meaning that the patient quit smoking and took an aspirin and a statin -- drugs which reduce the risk of blood clots and improve blood flow.
Even the doctors treating the patients for their blockages didn't always ensure that their patients went home from the hospital with a prescription, Grossman said.
At admission, 46.7 of patients were on aspirin, a statin and did not smoke; at discharge 71 percent were on both drugs and either did not smoke or still smoked but had smoking cessation counseling, Grossman said.
"The modest improvement in statin prescription before patients were discharged signifies a missed opportunity to provide a life-saving intervention for peripheral arterial disease patients," Grossman said in a statement.