Who is Most at Risk for Developing PAD?

PAD, Risk, Vascular Access Centers, Memphis, Tennessee,

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries that circulate oxygenated blood throughout your body become narrow. This reduces blood flow to your extremities. The force of gravity means that your legs are most commonly affected. When your legs don’t receive enough blood, they typically become painful and cramp when you’re walking or climbing stairs.

Don’t dismiss leg pain or numbness as a normal part of aging. At Vascular Access Centers, we want to help you to find out if you’re at risk for PAD and seek appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Here’s who is most at risk for developing PAD:


By now most people know that smoking is detrimental to their health. Not only does smoking increase the risk of certain cancers, it damages blood vessels throughout your body, including those that supply blood to your extremities.

Smoking is the number one controllable  a major risk factor for PAD. If you currently smoke, quitting reduces your risk for developing PAD. Your provider can prescribe medication to help you stop if you’ve had problems quitting in the past.

People with atherosclerosis

Hardening and narrowing of the arteries, known medically as atherosclerosis, is the most common cause of PAD. Atherosclerosis slowly and silently blocks arteries and causes them to become narrow, reducing blood flow. This raises your risk for heart attack and stroke, along with PAD. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking commonly cause atherosclerosis.

When too much cholesterol circulates in your blood, it can accumulate in your blood vessels, causing them to become stiff and inflexible. The hard arteries force your heart to pump harder to circulate blood throughout the body, which raises blood pressure.

The accumulated cholesterol, called “plaque”, can harden, break off, and travel to other parts of your body, blocking blood flow and causing a heart attack or stroke.

People with diabetes

Having diabetes increases yourthe risk for PAD. Long-term, uncontrolled high blood sugar damages your blood vessels. Diabetes also increases the risk for atherosclerosis, resulting in a double whammy for the risk of developing PAD. Controlling blood sugar is the best way to reduce the risk of complications such as PAD.

People who are obese

People who are obese are at an increased risk for a variety of chronic diseases, including PAD. Carrying excess weight places a major strain on your circulatory system. Obesity-related conditions like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol add to the risk of developing PAD.

The good news is that losing weight can significantly lower your risk of PAD and a wide range of chronic diseases.

Importance of seeking treatment for PAD

In the initial stages, many people with PAD have no symptoms. Those who do have symptoms typically experience mild to moderate leg pain when walking or climbing stairs. This is known as intermittent claudication. The symptoms commonly go away with rest.  However, not all PAD symptoms occur with exercise. In fact, the second most common symptom is pain at rest. Patients often experience leg pain at night while trying to sleep that is alleviated when the legs are dangled off thehte end of the bed.  In this case, it is the gravity when dangling the legs over the side that helps the blood flow make it to the lower extremities. with leg pain ADAnother

If left untreated, PAD can diminish your quality of life and, in severe cases, lead to limb loss. If you have blockages in your legs, there’s an increased chance that you have them in other arteries. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment to effectively manage your condition.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, you should get screened for PAD if you have risk factors. The providers at Vascular Access Centers specialize in managing PAD. For effective treatment, call one of our two Memphis, Tennessee, offices or book online to schedule an appointment.

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