About 230 million people worldwide have peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a serious circulation problem that can have life-threatening consequences. The risk of PAD increases with age, but there are other risk factors that also play a role — many of which you can control.
Ashish Pal, MD, and his team at Vein & Cardiovascular Center help patients understand the risk factors associated with PAD, including their own personal risk factors. Then, they offer treatment and guidance that can help them reduce those risks to improve their overall health.
The ABCs of PAD
PAD happens when the arteries in your limbs (usually your legs) become narrow, typically due to a buildup of sticky plaque inside the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Narrowed arteries make it harder for blood to flow normally through your limbs, resulting in symptoms like:
- Cramps or aching
- Skin changes
- Deep sores (ulcers)
- Tissue damage or tissue death
- Poor wound healing
- Increased discomfort when exercising
- Slow-growing nails
Without prompt treatment, PAD can increase your risk of limb amputation, dangerous infections, and other complications. Dr. Pal offers state-of-the-art treatment options for PAD, and he can also help many patients dramatically reduce their risks for the disease and its complications.
8 ways to lower your risk of PAD
Your age and a family history of peripheral arterial disease are two risk factors you can’t control. But there are modifiable risk factors that you can control, at least to some degree. Here are eight ways to decrease your risk of PAD.
1. Stop smoking (or don’t start)
If you smoke, you’re about four times more likely to develop PAD compared to a nonsmoker. Smoking interferes with normal circulation, increasing risks of atherosclerosis and clots.
People who smoke and have PAD are also more likely to have symptoms of pain and swelling, along with more serious complications, like an increased need for amputation.
2. Be more active
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to increased circulation and cardiovascular problems. A walking routine can improve circulation and help your heart work better, too. Plus, regular physical activity can help improve other risk factors, too, like obesity and high blood pressure.
3. Drop the weight
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for PAD, and it’s also associated with worse symptoms and complications. Even losing just a few extra pounds can dramatically decrease the load on your circulatory system and on the veins and arteries in your legs.
4. Manage your blood pressure
Lowering high blood pressure has big benefits for your circulation, and your heart, too. Dr. Pal typically uses a combination of lifestyle changes and medication to help patients keep high blood pressure under control.
5. Your cholesterol, too
High cholesterol significantly increases your risk of atherosclerosis. As with blood pressure, cholesterol can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication when needed.
6. Revamp your diet
Lowering your intake of unhealthy fats and increasing intake of fiber-rich foods and fresh fruits and vegetables give your blood vessels and heart the support they need for optimal function. Cutting back on empty calories aids in reducing weight, too.
7. Manage your diabetes
Diabetes raises your risks of all sorts of circulation problems, including PAD. Using insulin as directed, eating the right diet, and taking other steps to manage diabetes can reduce those risks.
8. Get symptoms checked
In its early stages, PAD causes few — or even no — noticeable symptoms. In fact, in these stages, many people don’t know they have PAD until it’s diagnosed by an experienced vein doctor like Dr. Pal.
If you have even subtle symptoms, it’s important to have them evaluated. Evaluation is also important if you have any risk factors — modifiable or otherwise.
If you’d like to learn more about PAD or get some help identifying your unique risk factors, call Dr. Pal at one of his offices in Orlando, Sebring, or Davenport, Florida, or book an appointment online today.