Three Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Arteries

An estimated 8 million Americans are living with peripheral artery disease (PAD). Lower extremity PAD can cause pain and cramping in the calves, thighs, or hips when you perform even the simplest of activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, or exercising.

While the pain of PAD typically goes away within a few minutes of rest, the poor circulation at the root of the condition can bring it back over and over again. At Vascular Access Centers Tennessee, we emphasize a few simple lifestyle changes that are aimed at improving circulation and helping you manage your PAD symptoms.

Our experts have put together the top three tips to keep your arteries healthy, reduce symptoms, and live well with PAD.

Tip #1: Stick to a supervised exercise program

When you experience aching and leg pain with physical activity, exercising is the last thing you want to do. However, exercise and physical activity are part of the foundation of managing PAD.

Exercise helps your condition in a number of ways. Most importantly, it preserves and improves your functional capacity. Without the appropriate physical activity, your ability to walk pain-free will continue to decline. Your exercise program should focus on increasing the amount of time you can move about without pain.

Leg cramping is the most common symptom of peripheral artery disease, and it occurs because the muscles in your legs aren’t getting sufficient blood flow when you move. Exercise helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, increasing blood flow to the muscles and reducing leg cramps.

Patients with PAD who engage in a supervised exercise program experience long-term improvements in physical function and quality of life. Sessions are typically held twice weekly and are tailored to your individual needs.

Tip #2: Aim for a healthy weight

Excess weight places a major burden on your circulatory system, requiring your heart to work harder to circulate blood throughout your body. Not only does this put extra stress on your circulatory system, it also places a burden on your organs and systems that must work together to keep you healthy.

Obesity is a major risk factor for PAD, and the more weight you gain, the more your functional capacity declines. If you’re overweight, your healthcare provider can help you create a reasonable weight loss plan. Losing as little as 10% of your body weight can greatly improve your circulation and PAD symptoms.

Tip #3: Stop smoking

Smoking is the single greatest danger to your arteries, causing them to become inflamed and irritated, which leads to a buildup of plaque that causes your arteries to narrow, reducing blood flow to your organs and muscles. The result is an increased risk of peripheral artery disease, as well as a higher likelihood of developing blood clots.

If you continue to smoke after you’ve developed PAD, you’re at an increased risk for serious complications, such as gangrene from reduced blood flow and abdominal aneurysm, a condition where the aorta, a major artery, ruptures.

While these 3 lifestyle modifications may improve your PAD symptoms and slow down the disease process, they are not a cure for this progressive disease and interventional therapy may still be required.  Dr. Jorge Salazar, Dr. Salil Joshi, Dr. David Cohen, and their team are dedicated to changing lives through exceptional care. If you need PAD treatment, call the nearest office to schedule an appointment or book online today.


Vascular Access Centers of Memphis serves patients at two convenient locations in Memphis and East Memphis, Tennessee.

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