Approximately 8.5 million Americans have peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. The condition results from plaque formation in your arteries that hinders blood and nutrients from reaching your arms and legs.
PAD increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. If PAD goes untreated, it can threaten life and limb, possibly resulting in amputation. The risk for PAD increases as you get older; up to 20% of people age 65 and older may have it.
Following are important ways to prevent PAD and ensure your blood is circulating properly throughout your body so you can lead a healthy life.
One of the major risk factors for PAD is being a smoker. Smoking increases inflammation in your body that leads to a buildup of plaque, which is composed of cholesterol and other material. The plaque obstructs your arteries, narrowing them so your blood has difficulty moving through your body to deliver important oxygen and nutrients.
Excess plaque can bring on PAD and blood clots, and it can make other conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol worse. Sign up for a smoking cessation program, or use a nicotine patch to help you quit so you can reduce that inflammation and improve circulation.
Lose weight and change your diet if you’re overweight or obese
Being overweight or obese is another risk factor for PAD that you can change and control. If you’re obese, you’re at increased risk of PAD even if no other risk factors are present.
If you need help losing weight, work with a dietician or nutritionist to help you change your diet to PAD-healthy foods. Instead of bacon or sausage for breakfast, try steel cut oatmeal with blueberries that are chock-full of antioxidants.
Imagine carrying around a 50 pound backpack every day. That’s what you’re doing if you’re 50 pounds overweight.
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol with medication if needed
Genetics can play a part in your risk for PAD, as can aging. If high blood pressure runs in your family, you’re likely to have or develop it, too. As you get older, your cholesterol reading and blood pressure may rise to levels that increase your risk for PAD.
High cholesterol increases the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which leads to PAD. If you need medicine to help control your blood pressure or cholesterol, don’t hesitate to take it. It can help prevent PAD, and it can save your life.
Start moving: The importance of exercise
It’s as simple as this: Exercise increases circulation. For people who already have PAD, structured exercises under the care of your physician are an important part of our treatment approach at Vascular Access Centers.
Harvard researchers have found that exercise can be as effective as medication in preventing major diseases related to PAD. Just walking in your neighborhood several times a week provides outstanding health benefits and can lengthen your lifespan by several years.
Contact Vascular Access Centers in Memphis, Tennessee, if you or a loved one suspects PAD. Call your nearest office, or book an appointment online. Our experts have treated hundreds of PAD patients with outstanding results.